Feb6_2020_Getty_1200403274_CoronavirusVaccine-scaled

Nigerian Govt Denies Placing Order for Russian Vaccine

The Federal Government (FG), yesterday, said Nigeria had not placed order for any vaccines from Russia.

It made the clarification following reports that about 20 countries had ordered billions of the controversial Russian vaccine, which were approved by the Russian authority.

Also yesterday, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and other medical experts commended Russia and her scientists for approving their COVID-19 vaccine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced approval of the coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, for use on Tuesday, claiming it was “world’s first,” amid continued concern and unanswered questions over its safety and effectiveness.

Developed by Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute, the vaccine has yet to go through the crucial Phase 3 trials needed before approval.

Reacting to the question on whether Nigeria had ordered for the vaccine, the Executive Director (ED)/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), who is also, a public health specialist and epidemiologist, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, told The Guardian: “No! Nigeria has not ordered any vaccines from Russia. Nigeria is working with the World Health Organisation (WHO), Global Alliance for Vaccines (GAVI), Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness and Innovations (CEPI) and many critical stakeholders to access vaccines that have gone through the required clinical trials and approval processes. So in the end, whatever vaccines come to Nigeria, they would be of globally-acceptable standards.”

NMA President, Prof. Innocent Ujah, told The Guardian: “We need to congratulate Russia and her scientists for this feat. It is excellent! This is a clear advancement in science in response to the global health pandemic, even if it is not as perfect.”

Asked if he would recommend the vaccine for use in Nigeria considering reports that the clinical trial was not conclusive, Ujah, who is a former Director General of the Nigerian Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) Yaba, Lagos, and Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, Benue State, said: “First, I will not subscribe to the notion that the trial was rushed. We are not in the know when the whole process started and it will, therefore, be purely presumptuous. However, in this global health emergency, any safe and effective options could be accepted. I suggest that before it can be used in Nigeria, it should be subjected to further studies and evaluation on the behaviour of the vaccine on Nigerians. It is only after the evaluation, that it can be licensed by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) for use in Nigeria.”

He said safety concerns should inspire extended study in other parts of the world to determine its reproducibility and safety.

A pharmaceutical chemist and Project Lead of Bloom Public Health, Prof. Chimezie Anyakora, told The Guardian the Russian COVID-19 vaccine came from a government-owned laboratory that also produced fantastic Ebola vaccine.

Anyakora, who was the Chief of Party, Promoting the Quality of Medicines Programme (PQM) of the United States Pharmacopeia Convention (USP) in Nigeria, however, said: “A breakthrough in COVID-19 vaccine will be a big victory for the world. However, the extraordinary pace with which the Russian vaccine was approved for use by the Russian government is a cause for concern.

“I won’t recommend the vaccine to Nigeria as it was fast-tracked and also because Russia has not shared or released safety and immunity data concerning the development and studies around this vaccine. This notwithstanding, it shows that there is hope in the near future that COVID-19 vaccine will be available to Nigerians.”

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