…Amidst Rising Blood Clot Cases, Several Countries Suspend Jabs …It Is Safe… NAFDAC, NPHCDA Latest tweet by the influential journalist, Dr Kemi Olunloyo that some high profile Nigerian officials may have passed on after taking the Astra-Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine, may have sent some scare down the spine of many Nigerians still hazy about offering to
…Amidst Rising Blood Clot Cases, Several Countries Suspend Jabs
…It Is Safe… NAFDAC, NPHCDA
Latest tweet by the influential journalist, Dr Kemi Olunloyo that some high profile Nigerian officials may have passed on after taking the Astra-Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine, may have sent some scare down the spine of many Nigerians still hazy about offering to take the vaccine after millions have been vaccinated across the world.
Olunloyo’s tweet read thus: “#Breaking: There’s a death & two high ranking govt officials very ill from the ASTRA-ZENECA #COVID-19 vaccine. The RX giant’s vaccine has been pulled in several European countries as a “precautionary” measure for blood clots. The Prez task force should be transparent now.”
Already, as a precautionary measure, several countries particularly in Europe have suspended the application of the vaccine over increasing cases of blood clot and some deaths, raising fear globally about its much touted efficacy but the Nigerian medical authorities have calmed the fright of the highly worried citizenry, saying the vaccine is safe
As at the last count, 17 countries in Europe including Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Norway, Ireland, Iceland, Austria, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Luxembourg have suspended the vaccine. They are joined by Thailand, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has said that since the country commenced its COVID-19 vaccination, no Nigerian has observed any adverse reaction, noting that all side effects reported by those who have taken the jab have been mild.
In a statement in Abuja, Executive Director, NPHCDA Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said,
“We are aware of precautionary concerns that have been raised regarding one specific batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine, namely ABV5300.
“We understand that investigations are being conducted to determine if the batch is in any way linked to an observed side effect.
“While we await the outcome of the investigations, it is important to clearly state that Nigeria did not receive any doses from the batch of vaccines with issues.
Shuaib said that the government is satisfied that the clinical evidence indicates that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective.
“Our assessment is in line with countries such as Spain and the UK who have indicated that they will continue to administer the vaccine because it remains an important tool to protect against COVID-19.
“The safety of vaccines delivered to Nigeria is paramount to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19. For this reason, it has enhanced multi-sectoral collaboration among stakeholders and technical entities such as the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), NPHCDA, NAFDAC, the WHO and UNICEF whose cooperation ensures the highest global standards are met for vaccines delivered to Nigeria before they are distributed to Nigerians. Clear, rigorous protocols are being followed to safeguard the health of Nigerians,” he noted.
According to him, “We are continuing to monitor the developments regarding the ABV5300 batch and will share further information as it becomes available.”
The NPHCDC boss encouraged Nigerians who were among those being prioritized in the current phase to continue their confidence and enthusiasm for the vitally important national vaccine program, saying “Together, we can save lives”.
Speaking to journalists shortly after she received a jab of the Astrazeneca vaccine at the NAFDAC headquarters in Abuja, the Director General of the agency, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye said the agency conducted diligent study on the vaccine and confirmed that it’s safe and efficacious for use against COVID-19.
Speaking on the agency’s acclerated approval of Astrazeneca vaccine, NAFDAC director general said that from the record of the clinical trials conducted by the manufacturers and the analysis done by the agency, it’s benefits outweigh the side effects.
As regards concerns about the side-effects, she said only few persons showed some allergy after taking the Astrazeneca vaccine.
She however said that it is advisable that anyone who gets the vaccine jab should wait for 45 minutes for doctors’ observation before leaving the clinic.
Adeyeye said that from all indications, Astrazeneca vaccine is generally safe for use.
On the Johnson and Johnson vaccines, Adeyeye said that COVID-19 vaccine is scarce at the moment due to the fact that rich countries have ordered for most of the available doses.
“For Johnson and Johnson, we don’t have the doses yet. I believe that we will do soon. But generally, there is difficulty in accessing COVID-19 vaccine mainly because the rich countries have paid up for it in billions of dollars. “So, they are the ones getting the vaccines now. If we get the doses, we will study it but we are not likely to get it until the second and third quarter of this year,” she said.
She explained that both Astrazeneca and Johnson and Johnson vaccines have same level of efficacy but that the only difference is that Astrazeneca is two doses per individual while Johnson and Johnson is only one shot.
“We are expecting other vaccines, such as the Russian and Pfyzer Biotech vaccines. We may not have a lot of the Pfyzer Biotech but as for Astrazeneca and the Russian vaccine we expect to get enough,” she said.
Nigeria, on March 2, took delivery of nearly four million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as part of an overall 16 million doses planned to be delivered to the country in batches over the next few months. The vaccines are being provided by COVAX, an unprecedented global effort to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Upon arrival, samples were handed to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), for further examination.
Nigeria on Friday, March 5th commenced the vaccination, beginning with frontline healthcare workers who are often at the risk of exposure to infections being the first responders to patients.
Dr. Cyprian Ngong, a medical doctor, became the first person to receive the jab in Nigeria. Three other health workers were also vaccinated during the launch at the National Hospital in Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo also received jabs of the COVID-19 vaccines to drive vaccine acceptance.
Members of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 on Monday, March 8th received jabs of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines during its weekly national briefing.
The PTF team includes the Chairman, Mr Boss Mustapha, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire; Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed; Minister of Environment, Mr Muhammad Mahmood; Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora; Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeoma, and the National Incident Manager (NIM) PTF, Mukhtar Muhammad, among others.
Statistics from the Nigerian government showed that over 800 people, including President Muhammadu Buhari and his vice, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, have received the vaccine in the country as at Tuessay, March 16, 2021.
Several countries, mostly European, have temporarily suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine over fears it may have caused some recipients to develop blood clots.
The measures are being undertaken despite assurances from the British-Swedish multinational, EU regulator the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and the World Health Organization (WHO) that the jab is safe.
The WHO’s Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety is reviewing available data and slated a meeting with the EMA on Tuesday.
The EMA will convene its own expert safety committee on Tuesday and will hold another meeting on Thursday to decide any necessary actions. Austria was the first, pausing the use of a batch of the vaccine on March 7 while investigating a death from coagulation disorders and an illness from a pulmonary embolism.
Days later, Denmark stopped administering the shot altogether after a 60-year-old woman died of a blood clot after receiving the jab.
Norway announced it was also suspending AstraZeneca over reports of possible serious side effects, including bleeding, blood clots and a low blood platelet count.
Iceland, Bulgaria, Ireland and the Netherlands later said they were halting rollouts, followed by Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Sweden and Latvia became the latest to announce a pause on Tuesday.
When vaccines are rolled out widely, scientists expect some serious health issues and deaths to be reported because millions of people are being inoculated and random problems would be expected in a group so large. The vast majority of these end up not being connected to the vaccine but, because Covid-19 vaccines are still experimental and there is no long-term data, scientists must investigate every possibility that they could have unforeseen side effects.
In response to the suspensions, AstraZeneca said on Sunday it had reviewed the data on 17 million people who received doses across Europe and found 37 cases of people who developed blood clots as of March 8.
It said its findings showed ‘no evidence of an increased risk’ of blood clots in any age group or gender, adding: ‘This is much lower than would be expected to occur naturally in a general population of this size and is similar across other licensed COVID-19 vaccines.’
The EMA said last week there was ‘no indication’ that AstraZeneca’s shot caused the blood clots, which are not listed as a possible side effect of the vaccine.
On Monday, the EMA said it was continuing to probe any possible link between the jab and reported incidents of blood clots and that, while its review continues, it still feels the benefits of the vaccine outweigh potential risks.
WHO Chief Scientist, Soumya Swaminathan said on Monday there had been no documented deaths linked to COVID-19 vaccines and called on people not to panic.
Swaminathan added that so far, no link had been found between the vaccine and ‘thromboembolic events’ reported.