The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) says it has officially ended the country’s first phase of COVID-19 vaccination, adding that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 88 per cent portent against the Delta variant detected in the country.
The Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, made this known at a news conference in Abuja last week.
Nigeria received the first consignment of about 3.92 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on March 2, 2021 through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Assess Facility (COVAX).
COVAX is an initiative co-led by the vaccine alliance, GAVI and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines by dividing about two billion doses across 92 low and middle-income countries.
The facility promises access to vaccines for up to 20 per cent of participating countries’ population with an initial supply beginning in the first quarter of the year to immunise three per cent of their populations.
Meanwhile, the NPHCDA boss said Nigeria had successfully vaccinated 3,938,945 eligible people across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT, representing 98 per cent utilisation of the 4,024,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.
Shuaib said “this comprises 2,534,205 people who have been vaccinated for first dose, and 1,404,205 who received the second dose of the vaccine.
“In the course of this exercise, the country recorded 14,550 cases of mild/moderate Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI), with 148 cases considered to be severe. However, we did not record any case of death associated with COVID-19 vaccination.”
The executive director noted that the country had officially ended the first phase of its strategic COVID-19 vaccination plan and was now preparing to commence the second phase in the next few weeks.
He added that “we have also received communication for the delivery of the following vaccine shipments in the coming months.
“They are: 3,924,000 doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca by end of July or early August 2021 from the COVAX facility, 3,930,910 doses of Pfizer-Bio-N Tech COVID-19 vaccine in August from the COVAX facility donated by the U.S Government.
“There will also be 3,577,860 doses of Pfizer-Bio-N Tech COVID-19 vaccine in Q3 from the COVAX facility, 29,850,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson (Jassen) COVID-19 vaccine by the end of September, that will arrive in batches from the African Union Commission.”
“We are making every effort and are confident that with continued support, Nigeria will be able to make significant utilisation of the vaccines that would be supplied to the country.”
He disclosed that the NPHCDA was putting in place necessary logistics for storage, distribution, security and accountability for the range of vaccines the country was expecting.
“To this end, the Federal Government procured 60 units of U701 ultra cold chain equipment, and as we speak, about 37 of them have been deployed to the 36 states and the FCT in preparation to receive the vaccines that would require ultra-cold temperature of below 40 to 85 degrees.
“It is important to stress that anyone who is 18 years and above is eligible to take the COVID-19 vaccine, including pregnant and lactating women. I therefore call on every eligible person to register and ensure that they make themselves available for vaccination on due dates.
“Furthermore, with the leadership of Eminent Nigerians, the Federal Ministry of Health and its agencies would continue to support our local partner, Biovaccines Nigeria limited, toward local vaccine production.”
With the Delta variant detected in the country, Shuaib said that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine offer significant protection against hospitalisation.
While acknowledging that vaccines alone would not prevent the virus, he urged Nigerians to continue to observe non-pharmaceutical measures such as wearing of face mask, social distancing and hand hygiene to curb the transmission of the disease.
Dr Walter Kazadi, the Country Representative of World Health Organisation (WHO), warned that the Delta variant of the COVID-19 was ripping around the world at a scorching pace, driving a new spike in cases and deaths.
Kazadi, who said that the variant was contagious, noted that “it grows rapidly inside people’s respiratory tract and to much higher levels.
“People are likely spreading the virus earlier in the course of their infection. The Delta variant is the most contagious version of the coronavirus worldwide.”
He urged Nigerians to stay safe because a large portion of the country remained unvaccinated.
Representative of UNICEF in Nigeria, Dr Peter Hawkins, said that COVID-19 vaccines were the most important tool the world had against the virus as thousands of lives had already been saved because of the vaccines.
He added that “it is absolutely vital to get vaccinated and take other preventive measures to gain maximum protection against existing and emerging variants.”
The Delta variant of the virus is contagious and possibly more severe SARS-CoV-2 virus strain, first identified in India.
It has been dominant in some Indian regions and the UK, and further spread to many countries and recently now in Nigeria.
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