The Nigerian government has debunked reports that the approved COVID-19 vaccines expected in the country may contain microchips and further alter human genetic information.
The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, said all vaccines including that of COVID-19 are manufactured under strict compliance with the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.
Mr Shuaib expresses fears over growing vaccines hesitancy caused by misinformation which leads todoubt of the vaccines efficacy.
“It is important to note that vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, are manufactured under strict compliance with WHO guidelines, therefore, COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any harmful substance, microchip and does not alter human genetic information,” Mr Shuaib said at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing on Monday.
He said the COVID-19 vaccines are effective and would trigger an immune response that will protect human against the virus if encountered.
He noted that Nigerians must get vaccinated when vaccines become accessible as the benefits of the vaccines far outweigh the potential side effects.
“The chances of spreading the disease is significantly reduced once community members are vaccinated and protected, owing to the fact that the vaccines trigger an immune response that will protect your body against the virus if encountered,” Mr Shuaib said.
Amidst the second wave of coronavirus pandemic and surge in cases, countries across the globe are already securing vaccines for their citizens.
Sensitisation is also ongoing amidst fears that many may not accept the vaccine due to doubts of safety, religious beliefs, amongst other factors.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported plans by the government to get President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and other dignitaries to take the vaccines on live television when it finally gets to the country.
The Nigerian government said it will receive at least 100,000 doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech approved COVID-19 vaccines by the end of January through COVAX, an initiative run by the vaccine alliance, GAVI, to ensure equitable access to vaccine.
It also said the country is expecting ‘free’ 42 million doses of vaccines in the second phase through the COVAX facility.
These vaccines will, however, cover only about 20 per cent of Nigeria’s over 200 million estimated population.
On Monday, Nigeria’s health minister, Osagie Ehanire, said efforts are ongoing to secure 10 million doses of the viral vector vaccines to cover an additional 50 per cent of the population.
Meanwhile, Mr Shuaib explained that all imported vaccines will be tested by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) and certified safe for human use before it is administered.
“We will like to assure all Nigerians that this verification exercise will also be applicable to the COVID-19 vaccine and NAFDAC will continue to monitor the efficacy of the vaccine even after its administration to ensure proper documentation of any side effects,”he said.
The NPHCDA chief noted the equipment required to store the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are now available at the National Strategic Cold Store.
“I want to reiterate that the first set of vaccine is that of Pfizer-Biotech and nRA vaccines and the equipment that are required to store them, that is the ultra-cold chain equipment for storage, are available at the National Strategic Cold Store of NPHCDA.
“We have over 2,100 litres capacity. The requirement for the 100,000 doses that will be available by the end of January/February is 500 litres, so we have enough capacity,” he said.
He noted that the federal government ”intends to invest in the ultracold chain equipment because of the logistics”.
“We already have thousands of refrigerators and freezers that we use for our routine immunisation vaccines available all over Nigeria.”
An investigation done by PREMIUM TIMES late last year shows that the country cannot effectively store the Pfizer vaccines.
“Nigeria does not have ultra-cold freezers much needed to store some of the foremost vaccines already in use such as the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines,” said Iyabo Daradara, Director, Logistics and Health Commodities at the NPHCDA.
“The National Strategic cold store has 11 walk-in cold rooms refrigerators which store at +2 to +8 and four walk-in freezer rooms which are used for vaccines that need freezing,” she said, in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES. “We do not have ultra-cold freezers in the country.”
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