COVID-19: Nigeria approves AstraZeneca vaccine ahead of rollout
London, Feb. 19, 2021 (AltAfrica)-AstraZeneca vaccine has been granted emergency authorisation by Nigeria’s drug regulatory agency, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC)
The approval ahead of vaccination in Africa’s most populous country is a signal to the type of vaccine the country plans to deploy once vaccine rollout begins
NAFDAC Vaccine Committee Review of AstraZeneca/Oxford #COVID19 (COVISHIELD) Vaccine (Serum Institute of India)— NAFDAC NIGERIA (@NafdacAgency) February 18, 2021
RECOMMENDATION FOR EMERGENCY USE AUTHORISATION#NafdacRelease
Full press release ➡️ https://t.co/qc7u1J4eMj pic.twitter.com/KICrwqPzWS
Nigeria’s approval of the vaccine on Thursday coincides with the announcement that Africa has recorded more than 100,000 deaths from Covid-19, a grim milestone likely to understate the real toll, as the continent of 1.2 billion people battles a second wave of infections.
The 54 countries in the region have a death toll of 100,000 from 3,793,660 reported cases, according to an AFP tally.
The continent, relatively spared by the pandemic, is the last except Oceania to reach the threshold of 100,000 deaths, which Europe crossed in April 2020.
The Director-General of NAFDAC, Dr. Mojisola Adeyeye said Nigeria went for AstraZeneca vaccine because it could be stored at 2 to 8-degree centigrade, a condition within the country’s storage capacity
According to the NAFDAC Boss, there are three additional vaccines undergoing evaluation, but the evaluation on Astrazeneca shows that the vaccine is effective against the UK variant of the virus which has been reported in Nigeria.
Aside the three other vaccines, Dr Adeyeye disclosed that the agency has over 30 herbal medicine undergoing review for listing. She added that the South African variant had not been reported in Nigeria
The vaccine was recently approved by the W.H.O for emergency use, in a press briefing, NAFDAC says it got the dossier of the vaccine a week ago, and the NAFDAC safety committee went to work immediately to evaluate its safety and efficacy for Nigerians.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, also known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, or AZD1222, is a viral vector vaccine. Scientists used an adenovirus, originally derived from chimpanzees, and modified it with the aim of training the immune system to mount a strong response against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).
It is only the second COVID-19 jab to have received WHO authorisation, after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
“The WHO listed two versions of the AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, giving the green light for these vaccines to be rolled out globally through Covax,” the UN health agency said in a statement.
The two versions given the seal of approval are being produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII), and by SKBio in South Korea.
“Countries with no access to vaccines to date will finally be able to start vaccinating their health workers and populations at risk, contributing to the Covax facility’s goal of equitable vaccine distribution,” said WHO Assistant Director-General Mariangela Simao.
“But we must keep up the pressure to meet the needs of priority populations everywhere and facilitate global access. To do that, we need two things — a scale-up of manufacturing capacity, and developers’ early submission of their vaccines for WHO review.”
AstraZeneca vaccines from India and South Korea made up almost all of the initial 337.2 million doses lined up for Covax’s first wave of distribution, which is set to get moving in late February.
Some 145 participating economies are set to receive enough doses to immunise 3.3 percent of their collective population by mid-2021.
The first wave includes 240 million SII AstraZeneca doses; 96 million South Korean AstraZeneca doses; and 1.2 million Pfizer doses.