The Federal Government of Nigeria has joined other African countries such as Malawi, South Sudan, Liberia, Mauritania, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Comoros, and the Democratic Republic of Congo to destroyed its expired COVID-19 vaccines.
This step, according to The Executive Director,National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, is consequent to the promise made to Nigerians to be transparent in the delivery of vaccines and further the Nigerian citizens’ faith in the country’s vaccination program.
Speaking at Gosa Dumpsite, 2km Away from Idu Railway Station, FCT Abuja, the NPHCDA boss said, the 1,066,214, doses of expired Astra Zeneca vaccines withdrawn from across the country did not expire before a decision was taken to withdraw them as a way of ensuring vaccine safety for Nigerians.
He noted that a few months ago, vaccines with short shelf life was offered to Nigeria from other countries of the world being a country where COVID-19 vaccines were very scarce due to vaccine nationalism, adding that the heroes of today’s activity were actually the frontline health workers who lost their lives due to vaccine nationalism.
“We had developed countries that procured these vaccines and hoarded them in their stores. At the point that they were about to expire, they were offered for donation. Well, we appreciate the donation from these countries. We have to acknowledge the fact that, they were almost expired by six months, but because we wanted to satisfy and protect Nigerians.
“As you can see these vaccines have now been deposited by the Abuja Environmental Protection Agency. We have come through in our promise to all Nigerians to be transparent in our delivery of vaccines.
“These vaccines did not expire before we took the decision to withdraw them today is an opportunity for Nigerians to have further faith in our vaccination program. Because we have lived up to the expectation of all Nigerians. We had the option if we were to take the advice of some experts to try and use these vaccines even beyond the label expiry date, but working together with our sister agency,the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), who took that decision to destroy these vaccines at the point that they got expired,” explained Shuaib.
Malawi was the first country publicly destroy vaccine doses in May. The African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team shipped over 900,000 doses AstraZeneca vaccine to 13 African nations through donations who have also faced challenges planning and funding for in-country rollouts, as well as vaccine hesitancy, which has made it difficult for countries to quickly administer the jabs into the arms of citizens.
However, the Serum institute of India, the manufacturer of these doses, extended the shelf-life to July 13 and these generates confusion in the expiration dates.
Shuaib further explained that If Nigeria had waited till when vaccines would be widely available, maybe it would not have gotten any Nigerian vaccinated by now and that would have been more disastrous for the country, as the
decision had saved the country, over 40 million US dollars.
Expressing his pride in frontline health workers who have been working tirelessly to ensure vaccination of Nigerians, Shuaib revealed that the country still has at its disposal, vaccines with short shelf life which are still potent and have not reached the end of use dates and the health workers are still going around every communities and settlement to ensure Nigerians are vaccinated.
The Director General, NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, for her part noted that Nigeria has one of the best vaccination immunization program in the world as mentioned by UNICEF last year.
Adeyeye emphasised that the destruction of the expired COVID-19 viccine today is the beginning of a continuous unfolding of the fact that the best is for all Nigerians, because Nigerians deserve the best in terms of quality of medicines, vaccines.
Adding that it is the basis of the endless meetings between NPHCDA and NAFDAC because when vaccines gets into the country, as nobody uses the vaccines unless NAFDAC said so.
NAFDAC is working day and nights to ensure that the vaccines is of quality said Adeyeye.
“They are the ones that received it because it is the primary job to immunize the country. However, we have been working night and day together. And what he said about the vaccines coming with short expiration dates pose a challenge to us as a country.
“The vaccines come to NPHCDA, which is tested in the lab immediately people come from Lagos to sample, we test it, it’s not just testing also, we put it on dip database a track and trace database that will show us where the vaccines are in the country”.
“NAFDAC was the only regulatory agency in Africa that was doing that for COVID-19 vaccine”.
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