From Noah Ebije, Kaduna and Fred Ezeh, Abuja
In order to allay public fears to the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, the northern governors under the auspices of Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) have agreed to be used as guinea pigs in taking the first dose of the vaccines when it arrives the country.
Chairman of the forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, made the disclosure in his address to a Webinar organised by Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation (SABMF) where the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines was discussed by medical experts.
Lalong, represented by his Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Prof. Danladi Atu said:”We the northern governors have agreed to take the first dose of the vaccines so as to take away fears and controversies surrounding the vaccines.”
The online seminar, according to Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the foundation, Abubakar Gambo Umar, was to sensitise the public and provide answers to all issues surrounding COVID 19 pandemic and its vaccines.
The Webinar featured a team of medical experts like Dr. Faisal Shu’aibu, Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and Prof. Abdulsalam Nasidi, an epidemiologist, who in their presentations gave insights into the efficacy of the vaccines.
Shuaibu also disclosed the projection that 70 per cent of Nigerians would be vaccinated over a period of two years.
He said under the first phase, 40 percent of the population would be vaccinated, while in the second phase, 39 per cent of the population are expected to be vaccinated.
He said in doing so risk communication strategies would be implemented across the different phases of the COVID-19 vaccine introduction.
Meanwhile, Niprimune, a solution prepared by the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) for immune boosting has been listed by the National Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), thus making it safe for consumption.
NIPRD Director General, Dr. Obi Adigwe, disclosed the information in Abuja, yesterday, when he played host to the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olurunimbe Mamora, who was on a facility tour of the institute.
Adigwe,however, expressed unhappiness that the listing was approved by NAFDAC after several months after the product was submitted to the agency for testing and analysis of its content.
“The solution is a strong immune booster. It is recommend for patients who are undergoing treatments and need to boost their immune system for proper response to treatment,” he said.
With NAFDAC approval and listing secured, the NIPRD boss said that Niprimune would be made available for further clinical trials in which clinicians would practically test and confirm the efficacy of the drugs vis-a-vis what it drug can do.
He, however, expressed fears that NIPRD may not be able source funds required for the clinical trials of the drug, hence he solicited the intervention and support of philanthropists and donor agencies for the clinical trials of the drug.
Mamora apologised to NIPRD for the length of time it took to get NAFDAC certification for the drug, saying the drug regulatory agency always ensured thorough and accurate analysis of contents which, most often, took time.
He assured NIPRD of increased support in their activities, particularly as the country strives to find indigenous solution to the COVID-19 pandemic.