Days after reportedly discarding over a million doses of expired Covid-19 vaccines in its stores, the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 has announced that Nigeria will no longer accept vaccines with short-shelf life from donor countries and organisations.
According to the Executive Director/CEO of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuiab, who disclosed this, Monday in Abuja, at an emergency media briefing by PSC on COVID-19, accepting Covid-19 vaccines with shelf life amounts to undue pressure on health workers to administer them.
This is even as it has disclosed that over 10 million vaccines with short-shelf life received free of charge have been administered so far in the country.
It would be recalled that the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, on December 8, confirmed the report of the expiration of doses of vaccines supplied to the country.
Shuiab said that over a million of the expired vaccines which had already been withdrawn would be destroyed publicly by the National Agency for Food Drugs and Administration Control (NAFDAC) in line with environmental protocol at a date yet to be decided.
The NPHCDA boss said the decision to destroy the vaccine publicly is to assure Nigerians that there is no intention to use them.
He noted that vaccines are available in all its designated public, private, secondary and tertiary health facilities.
“As of today, the 13th of December 2021, 7,894,068 eligible persons have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria. This represents 7.1% of the eligible population required to be vaccinated.
“The total of fully vaccinated eligible people in Nigeria is 3,969,325 representing 3.6% of eligible population. 496 persons have received their booster doses,” he added.
According to him, “In recent times, we are beginning to see an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases globally due to a new variant called OMICRON.
“Mutation of COVID-19 occurs when the population remains unvaccinated. An unvaccinated community allows the virus an opportunity to thrive, grow and build up more attack mechanisms against our immune system.
“In Nigeria, we are now beginning to see an increased number of cases due to the fact that most of our eligible population have not presented themselves for vaccination. With increasing travels and interaction these ember months, the virus is still thriving and spreading within the communities because our eligible population have remained unvaccinated,” he added.
Shuaib noted that the COVID-19 is unable to replicate and cannot survive for long in a vaccinated individual.
“Our unvaccinated eligible population are therefore providing an environment for the virus to thrive and mutate.
“We have worked assiduously to ensure that a vaccination centre is located near your home, your workplace, your school, your religious centre and at the market/shopping mall.
“This is to ensure our eligible population have easy access to the vaccines. The jabs are available, Nigerians need to avail themselves to protect not just themselves but their loved ones and their communities,” he explained.
He disclosed that on December 10, 2021, the agency introduced the Pfizer Bio-N-Tech vaccine for administration as booster doses.
“Booster doses are doses of a vaccine given to fully vaccinated individuals to help maintain their level of immunity for longer. All eligible persons who have received two doses of either AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine, are eligible for a booster dose of Pfizer, 6 months after taking the 2nd dose of either of these vaccines.
“The booster dose can be taken in any vaccination site free of charge. No new registration is required to get booster dose. All eligible persons should kindly visit their vaccination site with their vaccination cards to receive their shot.
“Individuals who receive the booster dose will have greater immune response to COVID-19 infection and enjoy greater protection against COVID-19,” he urged.
In a related development, the Omicron has claimed its first casualty in the world, as confirmed by the United Kingdom Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, Monday.
At least one person has died in the United Kingdom after contracting the Omicron Coronavirus (COVID-19) variant, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday, the first publicly confirmed death globally from the swiftly spreading strain.
Since the first Omicron cases were detected on November 27 in the United Kingdom, Johnson has imposed tougher restrictions and on Sunday cautioned that the variant could overcome the immune defences of those inoculated with two shots of vaccines.
Britain gave no details on the death or whether the patient had been vaccinated or had underlying health issues.
Deaths from Omicron may have occurred in other countries but none has been publicly confirmed yet outside Britain.
“Sadly at least one patient has now been confirmed to have died with Omicron,” Johnson told reporters at a vaccination centre in London.
“The variant now accounted for around 40 per cent of infections in the capital, he said.
“So I think the idea that this is somehow a milder version of the virus – I think that’s something we need to set on one side – and just recognise the sheer pace at which it accelerates through the population.”
Before the death was announced, Britain said 10 people had been hospitalised with the Omicron variant in various parts of England.
Their ages ranged from 18 to 85 years and most had received two vaccination doses.