The Federal Government says the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is evaluating four COVID-19 vaccines from Russia, India and China, namely Sputnik V, AstraZeneca, Covaxin, and Sinopharm, for their safety and efficacy.
It, however, stressed that vaccines not approved through its agencies cannot be used in the country because COVID-19 vaccines carry a certain amount of risk, which must be ascertained before administering.
Nigeria is also set to receive additional 1.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines through Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), courtesy of a donation by telecommunication company, MTN. In addition, the Government of India has ‘gifted’ Nigeria 100,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine.
Last week, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, stated that Nigeria is expecting 42 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine between March and April through the AVATT, and an additional 16 million doses of the same vaccine through the World Health Organisation-led COVAX facility by the end of this month.
Speaking during the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing, Ehanire explained that of the 1.4 million vaccines, 500,000 doses are expected by the end of this month, courtesy of the 7 million doses donation to Africa by MTN. According to him, the balance of 900,000 doses for Nigeria is expected by the end of March. He said: “The NAFDAC has received dossiers for Sputnik Vaccine of Russia, Covishield or AstraZeneca 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 (NPHCDA) and it is possible to accommodate all interests in the framework.
“We have continued to work on the roll out of our COVID-19 vaccines, when they arrive. This morning, I inaugurated the Vaccine Coordination Committee, an Inter-ministerial, multi-sectoral committee to address diverse issues peculiar to COVID-19 vaccine acquisition by Nigeria. Their function is to advise on coordinating access to acquisition and distribution of vaccines when available, and on our immunisation strategy.
“The Ministry of Health also engaged the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), which informed us of the free allocation of 1.4 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines, of which 500,000 doses are expected by the end of this month, courtesy of MTN donation of seven million doses to Africa. The balance of 900,000 doses for Nigeria is expected by the end of March 2021. Other sources of vaccines are under negotiation.
“I received a message from His Excellency 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, AVATT, Nigeria this morning completed her account opening, signed by two officials each, of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance, Budget and 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.”