Nigeria’s vaccination programme hit a firewall on Thursday as India suspended all major exports of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine from the Serum Institute of India, SII.
The suspension by India came as the European Union met on Thursday to consider giving member states greater scope to block vaccines being exported outside the bloc, much of which is struggling to bring infections down and ramp up immunisation campaigns.
It is not known how long the suspension will last, but health watchers say the development is likely to delay the delivery of the nation’s 2nd batch of vaccine supplies expected around the end of March and early April. The suspension could also delay supplies to other African countries as well as several low and middle-income countries that are relying on India’s production and supply of Covishield, its own version of the AstraZeneca vaccine, manufactured under licence from AstraZeneca of the UK.
It was gathered that the suspension would apply to all vaccines including the AstraZeneca shot on which the EU had originally been relying to meet a goal of inoculating 70 percent of its adult population. AstraZeneca’s vaccine is seen as crucial in tackling the pandemic as it is cheaper and easier to transport than rival shots. The EU has accused the AstraZeneca drugmaker of over-selling its vaccine and unfairly favouring Britain, – a charge denied by the company. Under the COVAX Facility sharing scheme backed by the World Health Organisation, Nigeria was allocated 16 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine out of which it received 3.92 million doses in the first allocation. Nigeria is expected to receive additional 42 million vaccine doses through the African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team.
The COVAX Facility is expected to deliver around 90 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa in the first quarter of 2021 and has committed to provide 600 million doses by end-2021 to cover 20 per cent of the population.
72% of Nigerians want COVID-19 jab — SURVEY
A new survey by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Africa CDC, has shown that 72 percent of Nigerians are willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The findings which cover the 19-member countries also revealed that two-thirds of Africans want to be vaccinated, although only in Morocco, at 91 percent, Egypt (78 per cent), and Mozambique (75 per cent), is the willigness to be vaccinated higher than in Nigeria.
Levels of acceptability in other countries shows South Africa (61 per cent), Zambia (53 per cent), Kenya (59 per cent), and the Democratic Republic of Congo (52 per cent). Tunisia and Cameroun had the lowest number of interested persons at 35 per cent each. The developments were revealed as part of the findings of a report released by the Partnership for Evidence- Based Response to COVID-19 (PERC) Consortium, made up of public health organisations including the Africa CDC and others.
The new briefs combine results from phone surveys on the impact of public health and social measures (PHSMs) with information on epidemiological trends, media monitoring, and data on population mobility. 325,514 vaccinated in Nigeria Meanwhile, an update released by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, on Thursday showed that a total of 325,514 eligible Nigerians have so far been vaccinated with the first dose of the vaccine, representing 8.3 per cent of the proportion vaccinated.
A breakdown of the NPHCDA update contained in an Electronic Management of Immunisation Data System, further revealed that Lagos is leading in the exercise with 81,185 persons vaccinated. Two other states trailing Lagos are Ogun, 30,704 and Bauchi, 30,538.
Other states that have recorded 5-digit figures in the exercise are:
Osun, 10, 645.
In the league of 4-digit sates are:
Cross River, 1,492;
Akwa Ibom, 498;
Oyo and Abia recorded 2 and 1 respectively. Sadly four states are still yet to vaccinate a single person. These include Kebbi, Kogi, Taraba, and Zamfara. Ghana vaccinates 470, 000, Rwanda, 345 000 — WHO Ghana has so far administered over 470 000 doses, while Rwanda has delivered 345 000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, according to the WHO. Disclosing this on Friday, The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said, said Africa has so far administered 7.7 million vaccine doses mainly to high-risk population groups. Moeti said already, 44 African countries received vaccines through the COVAX Facility, donations and bilateral agreements, with 32 of them begining vaccinations. But she worried that Africa urgently needs more COVID-19 vaccine supplies as deliveries begin to slow down and initial batches are nearly exhausted in some countries.
“A slowdown in vaccine supply could prolong the painful journey to end this pandemic for millions of people in Africa. While some high-income countries are seeking to vaccinate their entire populations, many in Africa are struggling to sufficiently cover even their high-risk groups.
Acquiring COVID-19 vaccines must not be a competition. Fair access will benefit all and not just some of us,” she noted. She said while the COVAX deliveries have enabled many African countries to roll out vaccinations, a critical proportion of the population targeted in the initial phase of the vaccination campaign may remain unvaccinated for months to come due to global supply chain constraints.