Nigeria has received 300,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from telecom giant, MTN.
The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, while speaking at its weekly briefing, on Monday, said the PTF received the vaccines on Sunday.
“Yesterday, Sunday, 21st March 2021, the PTF received 300,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines from MTN Nigeria,” he said.
“This is acknowledged with thanks as we encourage other partners to contribute towards the fight against COVID-19.”
An official had announced MTN’s donation of 7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to African countries with Nigeria expected to receive 1.4 million doses by the end of March 2021.
Having received 3.94 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines in early March, Nigeria has since commenced vaccination beginning with healthcare workers.
Last week, authorities in Austria said they halted use of the AstraZeneca vaccines while investigating the death of one person and the illness of another after taking the shots, according to Reuters.
In a swift move, over a dozen countries including Germany, France and Italy said they were halting the use of the vaccine or some particular batches of it.
However, countries like Germany and France have since reversed the suspension following confirmation by both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that the shot is safe and effective against the virus.
Amidst safety concerns, some high-income countries like the UK and developing countries such as Nigeria and Ghana have chosen to continue the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
The European drug regulator said it would continue to study possible links between very rare blood clots and the vaccine.
At Monday’s briefing, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said the AstraZeneca group has assured the public of the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Abdullaziz Abdullahi, he said government representatives met with the AstraZeneca group last week.
“The meeting provided an opportunity for one-on-one clarification on the accines and the outcome was a reassurance of the safety and efficacy of the vaccine against COVID-19.”
Mr Ehanire said Nigeria is yet to record any unusual side effects among those who have received the vaccine.
“NAFDAC is monitoring the process as part of a global tracking of adverse effects of the vaccine.”
He explained that anyone who received the vaccine and is experiencing any adverse reaction should report to NAFDAC using the Med Safety App.
The minister also noted that there are reports of racketeering in some of the designated vaccination centres.
“This is not necessary as 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,” he said.
Mr Mustapha said some Nigerian scientists have produced at least two potential COVID-19 vaccines which are awaiting clinical trials and certification.
He said 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 to encourage and motivate other researchers,” he said.
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