With the many controversies surrounding the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine to protect citizens from the covid-19 disease, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has stressed that the benefits of taking the vaccine far outweigh the risks.
This came as the World Health Organisation (WHO) also declared that AstraZeneca Plc’s COVID-19 vaccine should continue to be administered as the benefits outweigh its risks.
Over 20 countries across the globe have suspended the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine due to random cases of blood-clotting, which has not yet been scientifically linked with vaccination. They have temporarily suspended the vaccination as a precautionary measure while they carry out further investigations and analyses.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television in Abuja yesterday, the Director-General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, stated that the agency is not nonchalantly approving the emergency use of the vaccine, but predicates its decision on its detailed findings and recommendations from more mature regulatory agencies and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
She noted that out of over 17 million people vaccinated worldwide, sadly, only 37 persons have been reported to have adverse events from taking the vaccine. This, according to her, should not be a basis to suspend the ongoing vaccination of Nigerians.
She said: “We gave the AstraZeneca vaccine emergency use authorisation and this took place after exhaustively going over the data that was contained in the dossier. This was after more mature regulatory agencies have approved. It was after the World Health Organisation (WHO) approved for emergency use listing. So, we did not do this nonchalantly at all because the health of our people is prime to NAFDAC.
“However, when it comes to the development of any product, there are phases in which the product goes through – preclinical, clinical phase that is made up of phases – 1, 2, and 3, and then post-marketing or pharmacovigilance phase.
“These vaccines have been studied up to the phase 3 clinical trials. Where we are right now is post-marketing pharmacovigilance or what we call phase 4. When a product is developed in this emergency approval, it is still being watched and studied because no regulatory agency has given it full assent because it is still under study.
“There will be more information coming out. Part of the information up to phase 3 clinical trial is safety and efficacy. If the side effects or adverse events are very few, in which case the risks are so minimal compared to the benefits, most of the time that product is approved.
“AstraZeneca for example, 17 million people have been injected with it in Europe, UK, and only 37 cases (I don’t want to use that only carelessly because it is 37 individuals). But when you look at 37 reaction cases compared to 17 million, you’re talking of 0.000002 per cent. That is very small. If we have to stop the use of a medicine with a risk of 0.000002 per cent, then we will not have medicines at all.”
However, the Chairman of the International Institutes of Advanced Research and Training, Prof Philip Njemanze, has faulted the Federal Government’s ongoing vaccination strategy. He stated that the planned mass vaccination of Nigerians does not make medical sense, as such vaccinations are only carried out when a disease is widespread in a population.
He stated that the current number of infections in the country which is not up to 200,000 is not a basis for deciding to vaccinate nearly 200 million people in order to achieve herd immunity. Furthermore, he believes Nigeria is not experiencing the pandemic compared to other countries in Europe and America.
In her reaction, the NAFDAC boss said: “We are seeing variants of the COVID-19 virus developing, and we do not know what will happen tomorrow. COVID-19 may become a seasonal disease. When you have such a disease, you have got to get your vaccination and that cannot be overemphasised because of the seriousness of the disease.
“The approach that he is talking about I will say is logical but not a medically-based approach because we develop drugs every day and we make drugs every day and we see side effects. This is usually when beyond proof the benefits outweigh the risk.
“I could see the perspective of Prof. Njemanze, however, this is not the first drug that will be on the emergency use authorisation, and this is not the first vaccine that is being used for COVID-19.”
Over 8,000 Nigerian Doctors Now Work In UK, 353 Registered In The Last 100-Day
The United Kingdom (UK) registered about 353 Nigerian doctors in the last 100 days, according to data from the General Medical Council – the body which licenses and maintains the official register of medical practitioners in the UK.
The GMC licensed at least 353 Nigerian-trained doctors between June 10, 2021, and September 20, 2021.
The statistics also showed that between July 24, 2020, and September 21, 2021, about 862 Nigeria-trained doctors were licensed in the UK despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
The data also showed that 8,737 doctors who obtained their degrees in Nigeria currently practice in the UK.
Officials of the National Association of Resident Doctors are speculating that the rate of migration might double in the coming weeks since doctors were not given the right remuneration.
They said that many Nigerian doctors are migrating to Saudi Arabia, which might be more than those moving to the UK.
A poll by NOI in 2018 showed that 88 percent of Nigerian doctors were considering work opportunities abroad, but experts say the figure may be higher due to the rising insecurity and economic crunch.
Elections in Africa Must Follow Democratic Process – Osinbajo
Africans must continue to make the extra effort in ensuring that elections in the continent go through the democratic process, remain transparent and fair, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
He said this yesterday while receiving the President-elect of Sao Tome and Principe, Mr. Carlos Manuel Vila Nova who paid him a courtesy visit at the Presidential Villa.
On the 18th of July, 2021, elections were held in Sao Tome to replace President Evaristo Carvalho, whose tenure expired on 3rd September, 2021. Based on constitutional provisions, an outright winner did not emerge from the polls and a run-off led to the emergence of Mr. Vila Nova, who would be sworn in 2nd October, 2021.
According to Prof Osinbajo “there is no question at all that for those of us in Africa, we must make the extra effort to ensure that the democratic process is very transparent. It is such a pleasure to see that that was what took place in your country which led to your election.”
Speaking about areas of cooperation between both countries, the Vice President said, “we already talked about some of the areas of cooperation…your tenure might be an opportunity to bring some of those things to fruition.”
Prof Osinbajo reassured Mr. Manuel Vila Nova of Nigeria’s support to ensure that “your tenure is as comfortable and effective as possible as partners and friends.”
In his own remarks, President-elect Vila Nova expressed appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for supporting Sao Tome and also thanked the Vice President for his attention, stating that Nigeria is a “friendly country” and the relationship between both countries dates back many years.
In attendance at the meeting were the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, and a member of the Sao Tome and Principe’s cabinet, Mr. Americo de Oliveira Ramos.
Ethiopian Airline To Resume Flight To Enugu Oct. 1st
The Ethiopian Airline said on Sunday it would resume flights to Enugu as from Oct. 1, two years after it suspended flight to the South-Eastern state.
The airline’s General Manager, Shimeles Arage, who confirmed the proposed resumption in a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday, said that every week there would be a flight on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with B787 Dreamliner.
“Oct. 1 is Nigeria’s Independence Day and the flight to Enugu on that day will reinforce Ethiopian Airline good relations with Nigeria since the first flight to Nigeria in 1960,” he said.
Arage recalled that the airline stopped flights to Enugu in 2019 when the Nigerian aviation authorities closed the airport to refurbish the runway.
He said before the closure of the airport for runway repairs, Ethiopian was the only international airline flying to Enugu.
The airport was officially re-opened to domestic flights in 2020 and to international flights in Aug. 2021.
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