FG insists on AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine despite suspension in other countries


The Federal Government on Thursday said Nigeria would continue to administer AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine despite its suspension by eight European countries over fear of its possible deadly side effects.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, said suspending the vaccine would amount to a fire brigade approach.

Also a prominent virologist, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, stated that there was nothing to worry about.

Recall that the Federal Government on Tuesday last week received 3.94 million doses of the vaccine from COVAX facility, an initiative co-led by the Vaccine Alliance, GAVI and the World Health Organisation.

But as Nigeria continued to deploy doses of the vaccine on Thursday, an international news channel, France24, reported that seven European countries – Denmark, Norway, Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg – suspended all or part of its rollout as a precaution while they investigated concerns relating to blood clots and other side effects caused by the vaccine.

BBC reported that Iceland had suspended the vaccine, making the total number of countries eight.

Danish health authorities suspended all AstraZeneca vaccinations for two weeks after a 60-year old woman who had been vaccinated formed a blood clot and died, according to France24.

The move “follows reports of serious cases of blood clots among people vaccinated with AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine”, Danish health authorities said in a statement.

But the country cautiously added that “it has not been determined, at the time being, that there is a link between the vaccine and the blood clots.”

Norway followed suit, suspending all AstraZeneca vaccinations.

Austria earlier announced it had suspended the use of a batch of AstraZeneca vaccines after a 49-year-old nurse died of “severe blood coagulation problems” days after receiving an anti-COVID-19 shot.”

Four other European countries – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg – have also suspended the use of the vaccine from the batch, which was sent to 17 European countries and consisted of one million jabs.

BBC reported that Iceland stated that it was suspending use of the vaccine because it wanted, “ to err on the side of caution.”

It also reported that Norway’s public health institute said it would follow the Danish move to halt all use of the vaccine until the Danish cases were investigated.

The report quoted Geir Bukholm of the country’s National Institute of Health as saying, “We are waiting for more information to see if there is a link between the vaccine and this blood clot case.”

But Mamora, said Nigeria would continue to administer the vaccine.

He said since Nigeria rolled out the vaccine last week, there had been no recorded severe side effects.

Mamora said apart from being approved by the World Health Organisation, the vaccine had also been endorsed by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control for emergency use.

The minister argued that persons who died of the vaccine use in Europe might have had other co-morbidities or complications that led to their death, adding that it was best for regulatory agencies to complete their probe before any conclusions were made.

He said, “We have not had any unusual reaction from any of the doses administered. I have taken it and I have not felt unusual and no one has been established to have had it so far. So, we cannot just suspend right now. That would amount to a fire brigade approach.

“We will continue to administer doses and monitor reactions of all those who have taken the vaccines. We are not going to suspend vaccination just because some countries have done so.”

Also, the Federal Government said it had commenced investigations to determine the side effects of the vaccine.

Already, the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency has doused apprehensions about its side effects and safety.

But the Head (Public Relations Unit) in the NPHCDA, Mohammed Ohitoto, said the agency was awaiting the outcome of the investigations.