Anxiety as more European nations suspend COVID-19 vaccine

March 12, 2021
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FILE PHOTO: Small bottles labeled with a “Vaccine COVID-19” sticker and a medical syringe are seen in this illustration taken taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo.

NPHCDA defends jab, NAFDAC lists 14 herbal medicines

Anxiety as Nigerians came to learn, yesterday, that the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, currently being administered on citizens had been suspended by no fewer than seven countries for allegedly causing blood clotting and other health hazards. According to the American Cable News Network Cable (CNN), Denmark, Iceland and Norway have suspended the use of the treatment, while the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is investigating the claims.

Yesterday, Italy joined Austria, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Latvia to pause jabs from the batch ABV5300. Danish officials, however, did not specify whether its reported death was connected to the consignment.

The European nation announced a two-week suspension yesterday following reports of clotting. Iceland and Norway followed suit, but did not say how long their suspensions would last.

In a statement yesterday, AstraZeneca said patient’s safety was its “highest priority.”The Guardian could not reach the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib and Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, for comments despite several calls, text and WhatsApp messages.

But a statement issued by Head, Public Relations Unit of NPHCDA said: “We are satisfied that the clinical evidence indicates the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to be safe and effective. Our assessment is in line with countries such as Spain and the UK which have indicated that they will continue to administer the vaccine, because it remains an important tool to protect against COVID-19.”

President, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Prof. Innocent Ujah, said: “You need to know and establish the reason for suspension of the vaccine in those countries before contemplating anything.”

Is Nigeria going to suspend the use? A consultant pharmacist and medical director, Merit Healthcare, Dr. Lolu Ojo, told The Guardian: “Nigeria may not have to suspend the use of AstraZeneca vaccine because some other countries had done so. That will be a panic reaction, which is unscientific.

However, the EMA has approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for use within the European Union. The U.S.-produced one-shot vaccine has become the fourth to be granted approval by the regulator with EU already ordering 400 million doses.

MEANWHILE, 14 COVID-19 herbal medicines have been listed for use in country by NAFDAC. According to the Nigerian regulatory body, the medicines are now safe for consumption but their level of efficacy is to be determined during clinical trials.

Its Director General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, who disclosed this yesterday in Abuja after receiving a jab of the Astrazeneca therapy, observed that his organisation conducted diligent study on the vaccine and confirmed that it is “safe and efficacious for use against COVID-19 virus.”

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