Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, Director-General of NAFDAC

Why we approve Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use ─NAFDAC

*Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control explains it received the dossier of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, and the safety committee evaluated its safety and efficacy before approval for emergency use in he country

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

Sequel to evaluation of the vaccine safety and efficacy for Nigerian consumers, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has approved Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in the country.

Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, Director-General of NAFDAC, who disclosed this at a media briefing Wednesday,  in Abuja, FCT, said the agency received the dossier of the vaccine recently.

The regulatory agency stated that the safety committee commenced work immediately to evaluate the vaccine safety and efficacy for Nigerians.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, also known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, or AZD1222, is a viral vector vaccine.

It was gathered that 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).

The vaccine can be stored at 2-8℃ (in a normal refrigerator) which distinguished it from some of the other COVID-19 vaccines such as Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine, report said.

NAFDAC’s endorsement of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was said to have come after a team of scientists at the University of Edinburgh said B1525 variant of the virus whose earliest sequences were dated to December and found in Nigeria could be vaccine-resistant.

According to report, the variant contains the E484K mutation and first found in Nigeria in December 2020, which is present in the virus variants found in South Africa and Brazil.

The E484K mutation is “thought to help the virus evade neutralising antibodies,” reports The Guardian.

However, South Africa suspended the use of the Oxford/AstraZeenca vaccine earlier this month after it found out the vaccine could not prevent mild and moderate illness caused by a variant found in the country.

The country then, announced Tuesday, February 16, that it would donate the jabs already procured to the African Union (AU).

Dr. Simon Clarke, an Associate Professor of Cellular Microbiology at the University of Reading, said: “We don’t yet know how well this [new] variant will spread, but if it is successful it can be presumed that immunity from any vaccine or previous infection will be blunted.

“I think that until we know more about these variants, any variants which carry E484K should be subject to surge testing as it seems to confer resistance to immunity, however that is generated.”

However, the Nigerian government is looking to vaccinate a large percentage of its about 200 million population this year.

The African biggest economy has missed out on the first phase of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, as WHO claimed the country did not have adequate facility to store the vaccine.

The 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine initially expected in the country were replaced with 16 million doses of Astrazeneca vaccine.

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