From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Despite suspension of the use of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines by some countries due to safety concerns, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has assured Nigerians that lives will not be endangered by its use.
Executive Secretary of the National Primary Healthcare Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, gave the assurance at the media briefing, where he reiterated that the vaccine has been approved for emergency use by both the World Health Organization (WTO) and the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration (NAFDAC).
He said the low cost nature of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine does not make it inferior.
Shuaib explained: “We are working closely with NAFDAC to monitor any unusual adverse reaction to the vaccine.
“In addition to other measures that we have outlined for the vaccine to roll out, NAFDAC has introduced a safety app for people to download and install on their phones.
“I want to assure Nigerians that the federal government through the PTF on COVID-19 is fully committed to a safe and successful COVID-19 vaccination in the country.
“No safety and efficacy standards have been compromised in the decision of government to introduce the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
“The vaccine was approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization and was tested and certified as safe and effective for use in Nigeria by NAFDAC
“It is important to note that none of the approved brand of COVID vaccines is inferior. Understandably, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine relatively cost less than the other available brands of COVID-19 vaccines.
“However, this is not because it is inferior. It is because AstraZeneca which partners with Oxford to produce the vaccine decided and announced that they would not be making profit during this pandemic.
“So, from a humanitarian point of view, they decided that they will sell at their cost price. This is the reason for the relatively low cost of the AstraZeneca. It not because it is inferior in any way.
“As you well know, the AstraZeneca vaccine is being used in many parts of the world. Even after the roll out suspension by some European countries over certain concerns raised, the World Health Organization and its vaccine advisory committee has advised that there is no reason to stop using the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
“Similarly, the UK regulators have also determine that evidence does not suggest that the vaccine causes blood cloth.”
Shuaib also said 8,000 persons have been vaccinated so far in 35 states and the FCT.
He added that Kogi state was yet to receive vaccines because its cold chains for preservation of the vaccines was under repair.
On the concerns raised because of the registration process, the NPHCDA boss said anyone who was qualified and could not register, should head to the vaccination centre, where he or she would be registered manually.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has again frowned at cases of fake COVID-19 test results presented by travellers at airports, and announced that it has developed a verification tool to confirm results which will be deployed in a few days.