From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has warned of fake COVID-19 vaccines in circulation in the country.
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, made the revelation, during the weekly briefing of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, yesterday.
“Due to warnings by international police organisations of the high rate of fake COVID-19 vaccines said to be in circulation, and reports of risks of adverse events reported after vaccination, Nigeria will not accept vaccines from private and unverified sources. However, NAFDAC is pursuing initiatives to test and authorize more vaccines for use in Nigeria.
“In addition to scaling up vaccination, we scaled up surveillance at our points of entry to reduce the risk of importation of coronavirus variants said to be more contagious and virulent. These variants are suspected to be behind the surging COVID-19 cases in Asia and the Americas. In this connection, citizens are strongly advised to defer all non-vital travel to known high burden countries, until their epidemiological situations improve.
“Once again, our best efforts at preemption are to improve vigilance at points on entry, adhere to non-pharmaceutical measures, increase testing and tracing, along with vaccination deployment surge. We are also considering other measures and testing strategies tailored to mitigate risks of importation of virulent strains.”
He said though the number of cases is still low compared to other parts of the world, Nigeria is careful not to declare success because experience in other countries warns us of the unpredictable pattern of COVID-19 resurgence.”
The minister said the government will continue to improve strategies for case management to ensure better survival outcomes for infected persons, by continuing training of health workers, stocking up on PPEs, commodities and medication, and working with State and Federal hospital case managers, to streamline treatment protocol at Isolation Centers or in home-based care.
He said: “Many more COVID-19 positive persons present voluntarily for treatment now, which is a good sign because it allows easier medical intervention. In the past two weeks only one patient in our Isolation centres had need for oxygen treatment.
“This development has reduced pressure on oxygen need, making it more available for other conditions such as pneumonia, asthma etc.
“Plans by the Federal Government to build new oxygen plants in all states are well on track, as well as plans by Global Fund to repair or update existing, faulty plants.”
On vaccines hesitancy, the minister said: “The cases in India and Turkey are of particular concern to us, due to the demographic similarities with Nigeria and the fact that they are currently experiencing serious third waves. Over 2,800 Indians died yesterday alone, more than they suffered on any day in the first and second waves.”