Nigeria’s are raising eyebrows as the government continued to push ahead the inoculation of citizens with the AstraZeneca coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines, even after eight European Union countries suspended its use, following reported cases of death and adverse reactions aftermath of its injection on some recipients.
As at the time of this report, Italy, Iceland, Estonia, Denmark, Norway, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg have stopped using the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as a precaution to blood clot incidents reported in some countries. However, the European Union (EU) medicines regulator, EMA, said there is no indication that the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is linked to an increased risk of blood clots.
Denmark suspended the shots for two weeks, after a 60-year-old woman, who was given an AstraZeneca shot from the same batch used in Austria, formed a blood clot and died. According to health authorities in Denmark, the response was also prompted by reports “of possible serious side effects” from other European countries.
Danish Health Minister, Magnus Heunicke wrote on Twitter, “It is currently not possible to conclude whether there is a link. We are acting early; it needs to be thoroughly investigated.” The Director of Infection Prevention and Control at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI), Geir Bukholm told a news conference, “This is a cautionary decision.”
Although FHI did not say how long the suspension would last, Bukholm said, “We … await information to see if there is a link between the vaccination and this case with a blood clot.” But in Nigeria, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) said some of those that have received the doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine have reported mild side effects.
The Federal Government’s agency made this known in a statement on its Twitter handle on Thursday, without stating the side effects. It explained, however, that Nigeria did not receive any batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine with a suspected side effect, ABV5300. NPHCDA urged Nigerians to be confident in the nation’s vaccine programme. Nigeria took delivery of about four million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as part of an overall 16 million doses planned to be delivered to the country in batches over the next few months.
Among the prominent Nigerians that have been vaccinated are President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Health workers, governors, members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and other strategic leaders in the country have also been vaccinated. Reuters reports that more than 11 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine have so far been administered across the UK.
AstraZeneca told the news agency in a written statement that the safety of its vaccine had been extensively studied in human trials and peer-reviewed data confirmed it was generally well tolerated. The drug maker said this week there had been “no confirmed serious adverse events associated with the vaccine”.