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COVID-19: Expert urges Nigerians to remain cautious, observe prescribed protocols



Dr Gabriel Adakole, a Public Health expert says with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine is still months away from public availability, Nigerians should not lose their guards in observing the prescribed health protocols.

Adakole said this in an interview with ROYAL NEWS on Tuesday in Abuja.

He noted that until a certified vaccine was available for public use against the pandemic, Nigerians should stick with public health safety measures.

ROYAL NEWS reports that Pfizer and BioNTech say preliminary analysis shows their vaccine can prevent more than 90 per cent of people from contracting COVID-19.

The companies plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of November.

Pfizer believes it will be able to supply 50 million doses by the end of this year, and around 1.3 billion by the end of 2021.

British drug manufacturer AstraZeneca, which has the licence for the Oxford University vaccine, is ramping up its global manufacturing capacity and has agreed to supply 100 million doses to the UK alone and possibly two billion globally.

The expert said that there were dozens of other pharmaceutical companies with clinical trials under way.

He, however, said “not all of them would succeed’’, noting that normally only about 10 per cent of vaccine trials were successful.

According to him, it the hope that the global focus, new alliances, and common purpose will raise the odds this time.

“But even if one of these vaccines is successful, the immediate shortfall is clear.’’

Adakole said that the world really do need more long term data, saying seven days were not just enough.

“This Pfizer vaccine is also a two dose vaccine requiring the booster later on too, because many vaccines need that second dose to be effective for more long term. This is why we do trials and wait for more data.

“Pfizer’s vaccine also needs deep freezing and cold chain in transport and storage. Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson’s pending vaccine is a single dose one and doesn’t need freezing, only standard refrigeration which would be huge if also successful.

“The cold chain is risky any failure to keep the vials frozen for just a few minutes would mean the vaccine won’t be as effective. And sometimes you wouldn’t know if there was a temporary freezing chain failure unless with sensitive detectors.

“Key thing to know Messenger RNA (mRNA) based Pfizer vaccine does not contain virus itself. It only encodes the `spike protein’ portion that latches onto human cells,” he explained.

The expert said that vaccines were clever immune system trainers for the body. This mRNA vaccine “cannot translate into a full virus and initiate COVID-19 infection’’.

Speaking on how the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine developed, he said that SARSCoV2 was covered with spike proteins that it uses to grab human cells.

“The vaccine consists of a small genetic material “messenger RNA’’ that provides instructions for a human cell to make a version of that Spike protein.’’

“The mRNA is translated into Spike proteins in our cells. That activates our immune system to make antibodies and T cells. So when we’re exposed to the virus, we can quickly clear it.

“mRNA vaccines do not contain the virus itself just the Spike part and pose no risk of infection.

“Pfizer’s early results showed those with two injections three weeks apart had 90 per cent fewer cases of symptomatic COVID-19 than those with placebo.

“Its too early to know how long immunity lasts. Also too early to know whether or to what extent new SARSCoV2 mutations might evade immunity,” he said.

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