CHAIRMAN, Ministerial Expert Advisory Committee on COVID-19, Prof. Emeritus Oyewale Tomori Friday in a webinar meeting with Journalists said Nigeria lacked facilities for vaccine trials.
Speaking at the meeting organised by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), to sensitise media gate keepers on COVID-19 vaccine introduction, Tomori said COVID-19 vaccines expected in the country would not undergo further clinical trials before being administered on Nigerians.
This, he explained was due to the absence of the needed facilities to undergo such activities.
According to him, over the years, all vaccines acquired and administered in the country do not undergo further trials, adding that the country has always depended on the approval of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and endorsements from the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), for vaccine usage.
Hear him: ”We can’t test the vaccines when we don’t have the facilities. it is our fault that we did not participate in any of the clinical trials.
NAFDAC has told us clearly there is no clinical trial; we don’t have vaccine clinical labs.”
He fumed: ”Which vaccine are we using in this country that we have carried out trials on? Those that took the vaccines without clinical trials what happened to us? Where do we have vaccine clinical labs in the country?”
While raising concerns over the limited number of vaccines (100,000) coming into the country through the COVAX facility arrangement and the over dependence on free donations, he urged the Nigerian government to take a cue from other countries by taking proactive steps to purchase vaccines and on time, and also increase the number of laboratories and COVID-19 testing, in order to save the country from further disaster.
“We are not doing enough testing because we do not have enough labs, sixty years of independence and we are just building labs, the labs we have are not been efficiently used, the labs are not adequately supplied with testing kits.
Here in Nigeria we are over 200 million and only 100,000 vaccines are coming in soonest.
“Our government needs to be more proactive and start looking towards purchasing vaccines as other countries are doing, they should take proper action, negotiate in a short period to save our country. Lets hasten the situation for the sake of all of us.”
The Director, Disease Control and Immunisation, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Bassey Okposen, who explained that Nigeria was already making plans to get more vaccines, gave assurances that only vaccines certified to be safe and effective would be brought into the country.
He disclosed that vaccine was the best option for Nigeria to interrupt COVID-19 transmission, as it would take as long as ten years to achieve the needed 70 to 80 percent herd immunity capable of halting the virus spread.
According to him, the vaccines would be introduced in four phases; first to front line workers, the elderly above the age of 50, vulnerable individuals below the age of 50 but with co- morbid conditions, and states with higher number of cases would be given additional consideration.
Okposen said: “Herd immunity can take up to 10 years if we rely on that so there is need to give vaccines. It will be prioritised based on global guidelines and best practices.
“Aside the COVAX facility, the Federal Ministry of Health is having a lot of follow up meetings for Non COVAX vaccines to come into the country but they will have to be accredited by NAFDAC and the phases will be fastened to fast track the process of getting this vaccination but the emphasis is not just in getting the vaccines but for them to be safe and effective.”