The Federal Government, on Friday, said 8,439 persons had suffered mild adverse events following immunisation, out of the over one million persons vaccinated with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria.
The Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, who made this known during a joint press conference with the World Health Organisation, noted that out of this figure, 52 persons displayed moderate-to-severe adverse events at inoculation.
According to him, while the mild reactions included body pains, nausea, and swelling, the moderate-to-severe adverse events presented were fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches, dizziness and allergic reactions.
He said Kaduna State recorded the highest rate of AEFI with 970 cases, followed by Cross River State with 859 cases; Yobe, 541 cases; and Kebbi, 511 cases, while Lagos recorded 448 cases of adverse events.
Shuaib, however, insisted that so far, there had been no case of death or blood clot recorded from the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in the country, adding that the rollout in the country had been marked by safety, efficiency, best practices, and speed.
The NPHCDA CEO said, “When incidents, no matter how rare, appear in populations receiving the vaccine, relevant authorities must investigate to determine whether there may be a connection between the medical incident and the vaccine.
“At this stage, different countries are taking different approaches. In Nigeria, since the vaccination programme was officially rolled out on 15th of April, 2021, a total of 8,439 mild adverse events following immunisation have been reported.
“There has been no death from administration of the vaccine. We have also not diagnosed any case of blood clots related to the administration of the vaccines. Nevertheless, we are working with NAFDAC, NCDC and other relevant agencies to set up a more active surveillance system built on our experience with polio surveillance.”
Shuaib said the challenges encountered in Kogi State had been resolved by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, adding that 16,900 vaccines had been delivered, while the COVID-19 vaccination campaign was launched in the state.
He said inoculation of frontline health workers had been completed in many states and vaccination had proceeded to the elderly, particularly those within the age of 65 years and above. He, however, expressed worry that some persons were skipping the eligibility lines to access the vaccines before it got to their turn.
“We are not unaware of attempts by individuals who are not eligible to access the vaccines. With willing accomplices, it will not be surprising that some may succeed.
“When people skip the eligibility lines, we have established to access the C-19 vaccines ahead of frontline health and other workers, then they should ask themselves if it is ethically and morally right to jump the queue ahead of those who need the vaccines the most.
“In anticipation of this, we have deployed structures and personnel to ensure these acts are reduced to the barest minimum. On this note, I wish to commend the chairmen of the ICPC, the EFCC and their personnel for the enthusiasm and dedication with which they have joined our quest for vaccine utilisation transparency and accountability,” he stated.
Speaking on the global shortfall of COVID-19 vaccines, the ED said Nigeria had reassessed its vaccine supply forecasts and taken the decision that everyone who had taken the vaccine in the current phase would get the second dose before the next consignment was delivered to Nigeria.
Shuaib also commented on the alleged mismanagement of COVID-19 vaccines at Falomo Clinic, Lagos State, saying investigations had revealed that the reports were inaccurate and did not represent what transpired in the mentioned locations.
“One thing that the PSC and the Lagos State Government are aligned behind is zero tolerance to diversion of COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccine is free to all Nigerians, irrespective of social standing,” he clarified.
The Country Representative of WHO, Dr. Walter Mulombo, raised concerns over the COVID-19 vaccine equity among countries, saying the organisation was working assiduously towards ensuring countries like Nigeria that did not have the means to acquire or manufacture the vaccines got access to the jabs.
He said, “More than 200 million doses have been administered. It’s only those countries which have less than 50 per cent of the global population that will manage, acquire and distribute the vaccines available, and some countries are even storing the vaccine for possible future use, while other countries have yet to access it.
“For Nigeria, being among the few countries outside that group, the WHO is currently engaging the G7 and G20 to try and increase pressure on those countries hoarding the vaccines, so that they will redistribute the vaccines and make them available through the COVAX facility or bilateral agreements to countries that need them the most.
“The WHO is also engaging the manufacturers for technology transfer so that we can have more sites that will manufacture the vaccines in order to scale up production, but we have to recognise that we are facing challenges even within the COVAX facility.”