As the world scrambles for the limited quantity of COVID-19 vaccines on offer, Nigeria has produced two vaccines against the virus, which are set to undergo clinical trials and possible certification.
Chairman of the Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, disclosed this at yesterday’s briefing of the PTF in Abuja. He said: “The disclosure that Nigerian scientists have produced at least two local COVID-19 vaccines which are awaiting clinical trials and certification is significant. This is a welcome development that will open a new vista in scientific breakthrough and will boost the morale and image of the medical industry in the country. I call on all relevant agencies to provide the required support and enabling environment for smooth conduct of the remaining protocols for the certification of these vaccines, with a view to encouraging and motivating other researchers.’’
He said the PTF would keep Nigerians posted with the number of persons vaccinated so far, even as the records showed that over seven million persons had been vaccinated in Africa. Mustapha added that the PTF has received 300,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines from MTN Nigeria, urging other partners to contribute towards the fight against COVID-19.
On the issue of international flights, the SGF said: “The PTF had informed you in the past few weeks on the discussions on the KLM & Emirates Airlines services in Nigeria. Today, I will like to inform you that KLM has commenced full operations in and out of Nigeria since March 15, 2021, while operations of Emirates in and out of the country have been suspended with the exemption of cargo and humanitarian flights.”
In the course of the week, a new travel and Quarantine protocols will be unveiled to incorporate persons vaccinated against this virus and make travels safe for international passengers. “Efforts are being put in place for the reopening of Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu international airports.” He charged the media on the need to be very vigilant on the management of vaccines, saying except there is greater vigilance, there is no guarantee that the vaccines would not find their ways into the shelves of patent medicine sellers.
On his part, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said the ministry had last week met with officials of AstraZeneca group, adding that there was no cause for alarm regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. “Last week, we met with the AstraZeneca group at the Federal Ministry of Health. The meeting provided an opportunity for one-on-one clarification on the vaccines. The outcome of the meeting was a reassurance of the safety and efficacy of the vaccine against COVID-19. We have not yet recorded unusual side effects among those who have received the vaccine, which includes myself. NAFDAC is monitoring the process as part of a global tracking of adverse effects of the vaccine. Anyone who has received the vaccine and is experiencing any adverse reaction should please report to NAFDAC using the Med Safety App on your phone or report at the centre where you received the vaccination,” he stated.
Ehanire also condemned incidences of vaccine racketeering in designated centres, saying there was no need for that. He said: “We have received reports of racketeering in some of the designated vaccination centres. This is not necessary. Vaccination has been scheduled in phases such that frontline health workers and those at higher risk of the infection are vaccinated first after registration at the portal. Everyone will be vaccinated free and everyone will eventually be vaccinated. There is no need to pay to be vaccinated.’’
Meanwhile, as part of its contributions to ensure faster passenger facilitation at the nation’s Points of Entry, PoEs, the United Nations migration agency, the International Organization for Migration, IOM, has donated 28 thermal scanners to Port Health Services and the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS.
According to IOM, the gesture is to further strengthen the capacity of processing passengers at the five main international airports, including Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu, with the required COVID-19 protocols in place.