Friday Olokor, Leke Baiyewu and Adeyinka Adedipe
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, on Monday disclosed that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has received the dossiers of four different COVID-19 vaccines for evaluation ahead of their usage in Nigeria.
Ehanire disclosed this at the weekly press briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.
He said the results of some of the evaluations were almost ready.
He said since all COVID-19 vaccines were carrying a certain amount of risk, any vaccine not approved by the Ministry of Health through its agencies would be used in Nigeria.
The minister said, “The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has received dossiers for Sputnik V vaccine of Russia, Covishield or Astra Zeneca manufactured under licence by Serum Institute of India, Covaxin by Bharat vaccines of India and the Sinopharm Vaccine of China, for evaluation and validation for use in Nigeria. Some of them are nearly ready for results.
“It is important to stress that all COVID-19 vaccines carry a certain amount of risk and any vaccines not approved by the Federal Ministry of Health through its agencies cannot be used in Nigeria. The government will not be responsible for the safety or efficacy of vaccines given outside the framework of the government.
“All the needs of Nigeria have been carefully calculated by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and it is possible to accommodate all interests in the framework.”
Ehanire said his ministry engaged The Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team who he said informed the government of the free allocation of 1.4 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines, of which 500,000 doses are expected by the end of February, courtesy of MTN donation of seven million doses to Africa.
He added that the balance of 900,000 doses for Nigeria is expected by the end of March 2021 while other sources of vaccines are under negotiation.
“I received a message from the High Commissioner of India, giving 100,000 AstraZeneca or Covishield vaccine doses, also by the Serum Institute of India, as a gift of the Government of India to Nigeria. These gestures of goodwill and partnership are appreciated by the people of Nigeria.
“With regard to the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, Nigeria this morning (Monday) completed her account opening, signed by two officials each, of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance, Budget & National Planning, at Afrexim Bank as a requirement for access to vaccines on that platform, which will give Nigeria access to a much larger portfolio and variety of vaccines.
“Among the vaccines are the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine and as much of the Pfizer mRNA vaccines as we can manage. The COVID-19 Vaccine Coordinating Committee and NPHCDA’s strategy for vaccine delivery will advise the mix of vaccines that Nigeria will acquire,” the minister added.
Ehanire said the PTF was beginning to observe “what may cautiously be said to be a decline in the rate of spread of COVID-19 infection in this second wave.”
109 million Nigerians for vaccination in two years
Meanwhile, the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, disclosed that the government planned to vaccinate 109 million Nigerians in two years.
The NPHCDA boss said, “We remain in anticipation of about 57 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX Facility and the AU.
“Working with the states, the Federal Government plans to vaccinate all eligible population from 18 years and above, including pregnant women.
“After excluding those that are under 18 years old, we plan to vaccinate approximately 109m Nigerians that will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination over the course of two years.”
“Additionally, the Federal Government has received the commitment of 1,500,000 and 100,000 doses of AstraZeneca from MTN and Government of India respectively.”
FG puts Border agencies on red alert over Ebola outbreak in Guinea
Meanwhile, the minister has said that the ministry constantly monitors diseases of public health concern around the world and is observing the Ebola disease outbreak in Guinea Conakry with concern.
He said, “Stricter infection prevention and control measures, including personal protective measures, must be taken immediately there is reason to suspect.
“Nigeria is willing to send experienced volunteers from our Centres of Excellence on viral haemorrhagic fever, to support WHO measures to contain Ebola resurgence in our West African sub-region. It is important to protect the sub-region from the catastrophic burden of dealing with two severe diseases of public health concern.
“We shall work with the West Africa Health Organisation and WHO on strategies to bring this outbreak under control and shall provide regular updates on preparedness, containment and response measures in due course.”
The Chairman of PTF, Boss Mustapha, also said the Federal Government was enhancing surveillance at the nation’s borders to respond to the recent outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in neighbouring countries.
Edo records 103 new cases, three deaths
In another development, Edo State has, in the last 72 hours, recorded 103 new cases and three more deaths from COVID-19, as the government intensifies enforcement of compulsory use of facemasks and other guidelines to contain the second wave of the pandemic.
The state COVID-19 Incident Manager, Dr. Andrew Obi, in a statement on Monday noted that the state, within the same timeframe, recorded 60 new recoveries and six more health workers infection.
He said, “Edo State has, in the last 72 hours, recorded 103 confirmed cases, three more deaths and 60 recoveries from COVID-19.
“We also recorded six more health workers infection with 835 active cases who are currently being treated at various treatment and isolation centres in the state.”
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