Dr Osagie Ehanire
Dr Osagie Ehanire

COVID-19 Vaccines are more than enough to go round – Health Minister

NEWS DIGEST – The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has disclosed that the COVID-19 vaccine is more than enough to go round for Nigerians.

Dr. Ehanire made the disclosure on Friday at the formal Roll Out of the COVID-19 vaccines at the National Hospital in Abuja.

“The vaccines are more than enough to go round and they will be coming in phases”, he said

He noted the vaccination campaign will be in four phases and will align with the planned arrival of vaccines in batches.

Dr. Ehanire explained that each phase targets a specific segment of the eligible population to ensure equity in the vaccine deployment.

He said that the frontline health workers have been prioritised globally for vaccination against COVID-19 because of the risk involved in their jobs.

“The defined frontline health care workers are prioritised globally for vaccinations against COVID-19 due to their higher exposure to the risk of COVID-19 infection in their line of duty”.

He further noted that the protection is not only for the sake of the workers but for “our sake as individuals” so they don’t become infected and absent from the place of work which will lead to short staff.

The next important group of people who if they get infected are at higher risk of severe disease are those with diabetes, obesity, chronic kidney condition, elderly people, heart disease, and other medical conditions.

The minister added that persons under 18 years and pregnant women are not allowed to take the vaccine.

“The non-eligible group should respectively await their turns, persons under 18 years and pregnant women are for now not eligible except they have been medically certified as vulnerable due to one under ailment or the other”.

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on February 18, approved the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria.

The Director-General of NAFDAC, Dr. Mojisola Adeyeye made the announcement during a live briefing.

She said that the vaccine can be stored at 2 to 8-degree centigrade.

According to the NAFDAC Boss, there are three additional vaccines undergoing evaluation, but the evaluation on Astrazeneca shows that the vaccine is effective against the UK variant of the virus which has been reported in Nigeria.

Dr Adeyeye disclosed that the South African variant has not been reported in Nigeria, adding that the agency has over 30 herbal medicine undergoing review for listing.

The vaccine was recently approved by the W.H.O for emergency use, in a press briefing, NAFDAC says it got the dossier of the vaccine a week ago, and the NAFDAC safety committee went to work immediately to evaluate its safety and efficacy for Nigerians.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, also known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, or AZD1222, is a viral vector vaccine. Scientists used an adenovirus, originally derived from chimpanzees, and modified it with the aim of training the immune system to mount a strong response against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).

It is only the second COVID-19 jab to have received WHO authorisation, after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.