A total of 8,491 Nigerians have reacted adversely to the AstraZeneca inoculation since the exercise began on March 15.

The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, stated this yesterday at a press conference in Abuja.

The NPHCDA boss disclosed that Nigeria recorded 52 cases of moderate to severe incidents of Adverse Effects Following Immunisation (AEFI), presented as fever, vomiting, diarrhoea headaches, dizziness and allergic reactions.
There were also 8,439 mild AEFI reported, ranging from swelling at the site of the inoculation, body pains and nausea.

Five states, according to Shuaib, have the highest records of the AEFI – Kaduna (970), Cross River (859), Yobe (541), Kebbi (511), and Lagos (448).
The NPHCDA boss said there had been no death so far from administration of the vaccine.
He also said that the agency had not diagnosed any case of blood clots relating to the administration of the vaccines.

Shuaib 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.
“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.

“We have said from the start and I’ll say it again: we will only administer vaccines to Nigerians that are both safe and effective against COVID-19. We will continue to follow international best practice and the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other leading international regulatory bodies throughout this process.”
On the challenges being witnessed in the vaccine rollout, Shuaib said the initial challenges experienced by Kogi State citizens in accessing the vaccines had been resolved by the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19.

Shuaib said: As you are aware, about 16,900 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were delivered to the state and they have since launched their COVID-19 vaccination programme. We are gratified to say that it is going very well.
He also said that a fact-finding team set up to verify reports of mismanagement of vaccine at one of the vaccination centres at Falomo Clinic in Lagos could not substantiate it.

“As of today, April 16th, 1,071,346 representing 53.2% of the eligible persons targeted with the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered with their first dose in this vaccination phase.”
Shuaib added that many states had completed inoculating frontline health workers and are now offering vaccination to the elderly, particularly those that are 65 years and above.

He said the agency and its development partners “have a platform of Senior Supervisors” that engage in daily evening review meetings to determine the status of the COVID-19 vaccine implementation in all states and the FCT.
In addition, he said NPHCDA had been careful to ensure that only those who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the current phase are being vaccinated.

He said these include health workers and their support staff, other frontline workers, strategic leaders and that “in the last few days, we have also included those who meet the age requirements.”

Shuaib also said there were constraints posed by limited doses of COVID19 vaccines, adding that this has resulted in overall programme review to meet the challenges of global vaccine demand and supply mismatch, as well as the late commencement of the vaccination in some states.
“We are expanding the eligibility period between the first and second doses of the vaccine from 12 weeks to between 8 to 12 weeks,” he said.

Shuaib said that the global shortfall of COVID-19 vaccines led to readjustments in vaccine supply forecasts and to ensure that everyone who has taken the vaccine in the current phase gets the second dose before the next consignment is delivered to Nigeria.

WHO Country Representative in Nigeria Dr. Walter Molumbo said the world health body still strongly recommends the continued use of AstraZeneca for all age groups.
He said its top scientists advocated for AstraZeneca vaccine safety and that its calculated benefits far outweigh the risks.

According to Molumbo, an estimated 200 million vaccines have been administered throughout the world, with only 182 minor side effects recorded.
In a related development, WHO yesterday said out of the 200 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine so far administered globally, only 182 promosychopamia side effects had been reported.

Comparatively, WHO said that an estimated 2.86 million lives were lost due to COVID19 virus globally, while only an insignificant number of side effects have so far been reported.
It said that there may have been other mild side effects but that the risks were very low.