By Joseph Ayinde
The Nigerian government is expecting about 29.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine, Dr Faisal Shuaib said on Monday.
Shuaib, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), disclosed this at the weekly media briefing of the COVID-19 Presidential Steering Committee in Abuja.
He added that the government signed off to receive the vaccines through the African Union (AU), while vaccine deliveries through the COVAX facility were expected by the end of May or early June.
The NPHCDA boss noted that by then, Nigeria would have completed the process of administering the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine to those who got the first dose.
He revealed that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has continued discussions with manufacturers to examine their vaccines, in anticipation of emergency use listing from the World Health Organisation.
Shuaib explained that this was to mitigate the negative concerns about the delayed deliveries of AstraZeneca vaccines, thereby ensuring the sustained supply of vaccines for the smooth continuation of the exercise.
He noted that as of April 26, a total of 1,173, 869 Nigerians, representing 58.3 per cent of the eligible persons targeted in the first phase have received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The NPHCDA boss, however, decried the global scarcity of COVID-19 vaccines due to high demand, especially in countries where the vaccines were being produced.
According to him, the government anticipates a delay in vaccine supply to Nigeria which may also affect and impact the remaining phases of the vaccination exercise.
Read the text of Dr Shuaib’s speech at the briefing below:
SPEECH BY DR FAISAL SHUAIB, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL PRIMARY HEALTH CARE DEVELOPMENT AGENCY (NPHCDA) AT THE WEEKLY MEDIA BRIEFING OF THE COVID-19 PRESIDENTIAL STEERING COMMITTEE ON MONDAY 26TH APRIL 2021 IN ABUJA.
Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press and welcome to this week’s briefing.
I am delighted to be here to interact with you once again and I appreciate the great work you are doing to support the Government in this collective fight against COVID-19.
In our sustained efforts to contain the threat of COVID-19 pandemic and protect citizens, the Federal Government through NPHCDA under the guidance of the Presidential Steering Committee and the Federal Ministry of Health has continued to implement several preventive measures in order to save lives.
The vaccination against COVID-19 is currently ongoing in all States of the Federation. Our collaboration with health officials and other stakeholders at the National, State, LGA and community levels in the vaccination exercise has yielded substantial results.
I am pleased to inform you that as at April 26th 2021, 1,173, 869 Nigerians, representing 58.3 % of the eligible persons targeted in this current phase, have received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Notwithstanding the above successes, we are aware of the global scarcity of COVID-19 vaccines due to high demand, especially in countries where the vaccines are being produced. We, therefore, anticipate a delay in vaccine supply to Nigeria which may also affect and impact the remaining phases of the vaccination campaign.
However, in response to the anticipated delay, the Federal Government has rationalized the vaccination exercise by preserving 50% of available doses of the vaccine for administration of the second doses.
Each State of the Federation, including FCT, are currently administering only 50% of their allocated doses of vaccines. The remaining 50% will be administered to clients who had earlier received the first dose, and this would be scheduled between 8 – 12 weeks from the date of their first dose. Data from this exercise are being uploaded and updated by States on the Electronic Management Platform.
Furthermore, the Federal Government has signed off to receive up to 29.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine through the African Union (AU). We are also expecting deliveries of vaccines through the COVAX facility by the end of May or early June 2021.
By this time, we would have completed the process of administering the second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to those who got the first dose. In the meantime, NAFDAC is continuing discussions with manufacturers and examining their vaccines, in anticipation of Emergency Use Listing from the World Health Organisation.
We hope that these will mitigate the negative concerns about the delayed deliveries of AstraZeneca vaccines, thereby ensuring the sustained supply of vaccines for smooth continuation of our vaccination exercise.
To further strengthen vaccine security and accountability, we are deepening our collaboration with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Our partnership in this regard is also aimed at further curbing cases of vaccine mismanagement and other anticipated sharp practices at the vaccination sites.
The Agency has taken delivery of 2,250 tablets as donation from CACOVID, to help health facilities with the registration process and making it less cumbersome for data capture in our electronic data register.
We, therefore, encourage all eligible residents of Nigeria to continue to register for vaccination through the NPHCDA website, and we guarantee that every registered person will be scheduled and vaccinated in the coming phases of the exercise accordingly.
Let me state from available scientific records and investigations by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine, among others, is safe and efficacious. Our national regulatory body, NAFDAC has also certified that the vaccine is safe and strongly recommends its continued use for all eligible age groups.
May I, also, reiterate that we shall continue to collaborate with the NAFDAC Pharmacovigilance team to monitor the administration of the vaccine and document any adverse reactions following the vaccination with the COVID-19 vaccine. We believe this would further assure Nigerians that the government has made a safe choice of vaccine for protecting our people against COVID-19.
Having provided the above information, so far, we have documentation of Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI). There have been 8,711 cases of mild AEFIs, while there have been 52 instances of moderate to severe AEFIs. Kaduna, Cross River, Yobe, Kebbi and Lagos continue to lead other states in terms of the numbers of cases.
In furtherance of our sensitization and mobilisation efforts for successful COVID-19 vaccination campaign, NPHCDA in collaboration with the PSC, NOA, Development partners and other stakeholders; we are conducting Town Hall meetings in all the six (6) geo-political zones to address public concerns and hesitancy on the COVID-19 vaccine and vaccination.
We have so far successfully staged the North Central Zonal Town Hall meeting in Lafia which was hosted by the Nasarawa State government. The event is scheduled to be replicated in the remaining zones in the weeks ahead.
During the recent town Hall meeting, health experts took turns to further educate and sensitize Nigerians on the benefits of vaccination, as a means of protecting themselves, their families and their communities, and that this will ultimately facilitate the return of our communities to social and economic normalcy.
Gentlemen of the press, I would therefore enjoin you to prioritise the sensitization and education of the general public on the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine through your media for attainment of success in the COVID-19 vaccination campaign and other public health interventions.
It is evident that our collective efforts to protect Nigerians against COVID-19 is so far yielding positive results and we must sustain the momentum in order to achieve our desired goal of a healthy citizenry.
Thank you immensely once again for your time and attention!
Dr. Faisal Shuaib