Oxford/Astrezeneca vaccine

OBINNA EZUGWU

Nigeria has said it will await outcome of investigations into emerging concerns over the safety of Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine following reports it is causing blood clot.

This comes after eight European nations including Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Estonia, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland decided to stop using the vaccine on Thursday due to serious blood clot incidents reported in many countries.

A statement from National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) on Thursday, said the government is aware of “precautionary concerns that have been raised regarding one specific batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine, namely ABV5300.”

The agency, however, clarified that Nigeria did not receive any doses from the batch of vaccines which is at issue, even as it said no adverse reactions have been observed in the country.

“We understand that investigations are being conducted to determine if the batch is in any way linked to an observed side effect,” the NPHCDA said in a statement via its twitter handle, @NphcdaNG.

“While we await the outcome of the investigations, it is important to clearly state that Nigeria did not receive any doses from the batch of vaccines which is at issue.

“Vaccinations in Nigeria started earlier this month and we have not observed any similar adverse reactions. All side effects reported by those who have been administered the vaccine have been mild.

“We are satisfied that the clinical evidence indicates the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to be safe and effective.

“Our assessment is in line with countries such as Spain and the UK who have indicated that they will continue to administer the vaccine, because it remains an important tool to protect against COVID-19.

“The safety of vaccines delivered to Nigeria is paramount to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19. For this reason, it has enhanced multi-sectoral collaboration among stakeholders and technical entities such as the FMOH, NPHCDA, NAFDAC, WHO and UNICEF whose cooperation ensures the highest global standards are met for vaccines delivered to Nigeria before they are distributed to Nigerians. Clear, rigorous protocols are being followed to safeguard the health of Nigerians.

“We are continuing to monitor the developments regarding ABV5300 batch and will share further information as it becomes available.

“In the meantime, we encourage Nigerians who are among those being prioritized in the current phase to continue their confidence and enthusiasm for our vitally important national vaccine program. Together, we can save lives.”

Concerns over the safety of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine had heightened after 30 incidents of harmful blood clots in patients who received the vaccine were recorded, including at least one case in Denmark where the patient died.

The Health Minister of Denmark who announced the suspension of AstraZeneca jabs in the country via a tweet said “there’s currently no ways to know for certain whether the cases of serious blood clots are connected to the vaccine, but the situation warrants investigation. We acted early, it needs to be thoroughly investigated.”

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi halted a shipment of AstraZeneca jabs to Australia. Health authorities in Italy also suspended jabs from the current batch of the vaccine. But health authorities in London and Brussels dismissed the issues, insisting that this vaccine is safe while going with plans to approve Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose jab.

The EU medicines regulator said it was recommending the vaccine be authorised for all adults over 18 “after a thorough evaluation” of J&J’s data found the vaccine met criteria for efficacy, safety and quality.