Members of PTF on COVID-19 at a Media Briefing in Abuja, FCT

Government warns Nigerians of counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines in circulation

*Nigeria is aware of official reports of large-scale fraud and counterfeit vaccines that are already in circulation ─Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Minister for Health

*We’re set to receive four million doses of NAFDAC-certified AstraZeneca vaccine as part of efforts at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, says Boss Mustapha, Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19

 Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

The Federal Government, again, has raised the alarm over the circulation of fake COVID-19 vaccines in the country.

It cautioned Nigerian consumers of hazardous consequences should they resort to taking such uncertified vaccine jabs.

Mr. Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19, disclosed this at the media briefing of the PTF Monday, also said preliminary evidence before it showed that the second wave of the pandemic was gradually easing out.

He, however, warned Nigerians against complacency in this regard.

The government stated with the recent certification given by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) for application of AstraZeneca vaccines in the country, Nigeria is set to receive four million doses of the vaccine as part of efforts to stem the wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Mustapha, the issue of vaccines continues to dominate public discourses as well as major policy and financial decisions by various countries of the world.

He said: “As you are aware, NAFDAC in the course of the week granted emergency use authorization for the use of AstraZeneca vaccines in Nigeria.

“This decision was reached after due process by the regulatory body. Despite this milestone approval, which will obviously be a game changer, the PTF wishes to underscore the need to continue to take responsibility by observing all the non-pharmaceutical measures.”

The SGF explained that vaccines remain critical in the battle, but “we must remain well-informed because of the intense transmission which is putting enormous pressure on the hospitals, intensive care units and health workers in our different communities.

“Let me state that decisions made by leaders and citizens will determine the level of our success in tackling the acute phase.​”

The PTF has been assured that Nigeria shall receive the initial four million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines very soon and Nigerians will be adequately informed on developments, he stressed.

He stated that multisectoral machinery would be deployed to enhance the logistics to the ‘last-mile administration’ processes that have been put in place.

This will involve community mobilisation, training, transportation, storage, operations, etc.

“The real work involves every sub-national entities, the Communities, the citizens, and the Civil Societies. We crave your cooperation and support to achieve this,” Mustapha noted.

Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Honourable Minister for Health, in his presentation at the briefing Monday said the Federal government received reports of fake COVID-19 vaccines in circulation.

The Minister stated: “Nigeria is aware of official reports of large-scale fraud and counterfeit vaccines that are already in circulation.

“Since our vaccine needs for this year are virtually fully satisfied by multilateral and bilateral original manufacturer sources, the Ministry of Health does not, for now, intend to procure vaccines from private importers, and no vaccine will be allowed into the country unless they are certified by NAFDAC.

“The need to involve the private sector in dispensing vaccine will be studied by the vaccine coordinating committee and NPHCDA, who has the mandate to administer vaccines in Nigeria.”

He added that Nigerians, however, must remember that the COVID-19 vaccine is not an ordinary routine vaccine, but an unfamiliar, novel vaccine with properties that are still being studied.

“There may be effects during their administration, for which government must issue indemnification and take responsibility, which will not cover vaccines imported or administered privately, outside of legal framework.”

The PTF commended the country’s organised private sector on moves to support COVID-19 vaccine financing by the Nigerian private sector, which will be exclusively channelled through the account Nigeria has opened with the Afrexim Bank in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“We shall be happy to discuss the processes and terms further, with members of CA-COVID,” he noted.

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