The Federal Government has received 699,760 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, donated by the UK government.
According to the Acting British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Gill Atkinson, the donation is part of the 80 million doses the country had pledged to support the COVID-19 fight.
“The UK was one of the first countries to back COVAX with £548m. We have consistently pushed for a global effort that helps every country receive the vaccine against COVID-19. I am so pleased to see Nigeria receive 699, 760 doses, donated by the UK, in their second batch of the vaccine through COVAX,” Atkinson said.
She called on citizens to take advantage of the availability of the vaccines and get herd immunity against the virus.
Meanwhile, Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) said the vaccines will be deployed immediately, with priority on those who already took the first jab.
The firm cautioned however that the Covid pandemic had a “negative impact” on both the diagnosis and treatment of other conditions aside from Covid.
“We delivered solid progress in the first quarter of 2021 and continued to advance our portfolio of life-changing medicines,” said chief executive Pascal Soriot in the earnings release.
“New medicines contributed over half of revenue and all regions delivered encouraging growth,” Soriot said.
“This performance ensured another quarter of strong revenue and earnings progression, continued profitability, and cash-flow generation, despite the pandemic’s ongoing negative impact on the diagnosis and treatment of many conditions.”
The results come at the end of a turbulent week after the European Union launched legal action against AstraZeneca over Covid-19 vaccine delivery shortfalls that hampered efforts to kickstart inoculations across the bloc.
The EU is suing AstraZeneca on the basis of breaches of an advanced purchase agreement, but the firm has dismissed the legal action “without merit” and stated that it will strongly defend itself in court.
AstraZeneca said it is due to have delivered about 50 million doses to Europe by the end of April, but that is far lower than the amount Brussels insists should have come.
The commission says overall the firm is set to deliver only a third of the 300 million doses it had promised by June.
The EU-AstraZeneca court hearing has been set for May 26, a Belgian court said Wednesday.
EU legal action taken against AstraZeneca over shortfalls in its delivery of Covid vaccines is “without merit”, the drugs giant said Monday.
“We believe any litigation is without merit and we welcome this opportunity to resolve this dispute as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement after the European Commission launched proceedings.
AstraZeneca said it had “fully complied with the Advance Purchase Agreement with the European Commission”.
It added that in line with AstraZeneca’s forecast, the company is set to deliver almost 50 million doses to European nations by the end of April.
“AstraZeneca regrets the European Commission’s decision to take legal action over the supply of Covid-19 vaccines,” the statement said.
“We look forward to working constructively with the EU Commission to vaccinate as many people as possible.”
The EU executive and AstraZeneca have been at loggerheads as the British-Swedish company’s alleged shortfall of deliveries to the bloc hobbled the early efforts to roll out jabs.
The commission — which has been responsible for procuring vaccines for all of the bloc — informed member states last week of its plans to take the company to court and pressed for support from national governments.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said he was unaware of the specifics around the legal action.
“What I will say is that AstraZeneca has been a hugely strong partner for the UK and in fact, globally, for the work they’re doing,” he told reporters.
“They’ve been a vital part of our vaccine rollout programme, and we continue to look forward to working with them.”
A total of 638,291 eligible people have taken their first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) said on Tuesday.
In its latest update, the NPHCDA said more people have continued to receive the vaccine jabs across all states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), except in Kogi State where authorities have yet to commence vaccination.
The latest figure indicates that 124,665 more eligible people took the vaccine jabs in the last two days, following the 513,626 total figure that was reported on Sunday.
It also shows an increase of 6.2 per cent of the proportion vaccinated, compared with the 25.5 per cent earlier reported.
A further breakdown of the figure reveals that Lagos has the highest number of eligible people who have taken the vaccine jabs with a total of 122,714.
The south-west state, which is described as the epicentre of the pandemic in Nigeria, maintains its status as the only state to have surpassed the 100,000 mark.
Coming after Lagos as states with the highest number of people that have received the vaccine are Ogun, Kaduna, and Katsina States where 50,052; 43,601; and 36,075 eligible people have been vaccinated, respectively.
Other states are Bauchi – 33,157; Kwara – 28,681; Kano – 27,980; Ondo – 25,035; Jigawa – 23,424; FCT – 21,005; Osun – 18,160; Edo – 17,627; Yobe – 16,681; Ekiti – 15,291; and Adamawa – 15,156.
According to the NPHCDA, the figures were compiled from the system dashboard of the Electronic Management of Immunisation Data (EMID).
This comes four weeks after Nigeria received its first shipment of 3,924,000 doses of the vaccines from India.
The country commenced the vaccination exercise with the vaccination of four frontline healthcare workers in Abuja on March 5 – three days after the vaccines arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, state governors, as well as members of the Federal Executive Council, are among those who have received their first dose of the vaccine.
At the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 held on Monday last week, the PTF Chairman, Mr Boss Mustapha, had said the government took delivery of 300,000 additional doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.
Sweden’s Public Health Agency on Thursday announced it was resuming the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine after it was put on pause over blood clot fears, but limited it to seniors.
Following other European countries, Sweden suspended vaccinations with the AstraZeneca jab in mid-March following reports of severe blood clots potentially linked to the vaccine.
Last week the EU drugs regulator EMA said the vaccine was “safe and effective” and not linked to a higher risk of blood clots, but could not “rule out definitively” its role in a rare clotting disorder.
While many other nations resumed using the AstraZeneca vaccine following the EMA’s announcement, Nordic countries maintained their suspensions pending further checks.
“AstraZeneca is a very effective vaccine, and there is a great need for protection against Covid-19 among the elderly. Especially now when we are seeing an increased spread of transmission,” state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told a press conference on Thursday as he announced inoculations should resume.
However the jab would be restricted to those over 65, as reports of complications among those younger than that age continued to be investigated.
“We are continuing the pause in that group until we have more information about what the risks actually are,” Tegnell said.
Finland and Iceland made similar announcements earlier in the week, while Denmark said Thursday it was extending its total suspension for another three weeks.
A decision from Norway is expected on Friday.
According to data from the World Health Organization, Sweden has seen an incidence rate in the last 14 days of 604 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, an increase of 16 percent.
Sweden, a country of 10.3 million inhabitants, has so far recorded 773,690 cases of Covid-19 and 13,373 associated deaths.
Vaccinations began in late December and as of Wednesday 9.8 percent of the population have received a first dose, while 4.2 percent have been fully vaccinated.
Nigeria has received 300,000 additional doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, the government said on Monday.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, disclosed this at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
He noted that the vaccines were donated to the government by telecommunications giant – MTN and called on other partners to contribute towards the fight against COVID-19 in the country.
The first batch of 3,924,000 doses of the vaccines arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja on March 2 via an Emirates airplane from India.
Nigeria commenced the exercise three days later with the vaccination of four frontline healthcare workers in Abuja.
At Monday’s briefing, Mustapha, who is also the PTF chairman, described the disclosure that some Nigerian scientists have produced at least two local COVID-19 vaccines which were awaiting clinical trials and certification as significant.
According to him, it is a welcome development that will open a new vista in scientific breakthrough and will boost the morale and image of the medical industry in the country.
The SGF, therefore, called on all relevant agencies to provide the required support and enabling environment for the smooth conduct of the remaining protocols for the certification of the local vaccines.
He also hinted that a platform would be created during the week to show Nigerians every information relating to the management of vaccines and the pandemic.
Read the full text of the SGF’s remarks at the briefing below:
REMARKS OF THE CHAIRMAN OF THE PTF-COVID 19 AT THE NATIONAL BRIEFING OF MONDAY, 22ND MARCH, 2021
I welcome you to the National Briefing of the PTF-COVID 19 for Monday, 22nd March 2021.
One year ago, exactly 21st March 2020, a total lockdown was declared by the Government in some parts of the country due to the coronavirus pandemic that hit us.
In the past one year, the socio-economic impact on us cannot be underestimated. Many people lost their livelihood and many people lost loved ones. May their souls find rest with their maker.
Yesterday again, Nigeria recorded the lowest number of cases so far this year. We have also seen a decline in cases in the high burden countries around the African region.
This does not call for us to lower our guards as the virus is still potent and virulent. This is the right time to adhere to the full compliance of the NPIs and be vaccinated.
Although, situations around the world now show some increase in cases, especially in the Americas, Europe, and East Mediterranean regions, which suggests that they could be a third wave, further affirms that non-compliance with COVID-19 regulations and growing evidence of vaccine hesitancy could endanger millions of lives.
Last Friday, I participated in the sensitisation meeting of the Muslim scholars and Imams on COVID-19 vaccination rollout organised by the NPHCDA in collaboration with the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) where we urged the leadership of the Muslim Ummah to mobilise and educate their adherents to take the vaccines because it is safe and efficacious.
The PTF will keep you posted with the number of persons vaccinated so far in as much as our record shows that over seven million persons have been vaccinated in Africa.
A platform will be created in the course of the week to show Nigerians every information relating to the management of vaccines and of course, the pandemic. The ED NPHCDA will give you further updates on this.
Yesterday, Sunday, 21st March 2021, the PTF received 300,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines from MTN Nigeria. This is acknowledged with thanks as we encourage other partners to contribute towards the fight against COVID-19.
The disclosure that Nigerian scientists have produced at least two (2) local COVID-19 vaccines which are awaiting clinical trials and certification is significant.
This is a welcome development that will open a new vista in scientific breakthrough and will boost the morale and image of the medical industry in the country.
I call on all relevant agencies to provide the required support and enabling environment for smooth conduct of the remaining protocols for the certification of these vaccines with a view to encouraging and motivating other researchers.
The PTF had informed you in the past few weeks of the discussions on the KLM & Emirates Airlines services in Nigeria. Today, I would like to inform you that KLM has commenced full operations in and out of Nigeria since 15th March 2021 while operations of the Emirates in and out of the country have been suspended with the exemption of Cargo and Humanitarian flights.
In the course of the week, new travel and quarantine protocols will be unveiled to incorporate persons vaccinated against this virus and make travels safe for international passengers.
Efforts are being put in place for the reopening of the Kano, Port Harcourt, and Enugu international airports. The NIM will update you on this.
I now invite the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, who is standing in for the two Ministers of Health, the DG (NCDC), the NIM, and the ED-NPHCDA to brief you on technical developments.
The Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) says it will not force anyone in the country to take the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
The Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Council, His Eminence Sa’ad Abubakar, stated this at a meeting on Friday in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
He spoke at a meeting with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire; and the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib.
According to the Sultan, the NSCIA has endorsed the vaccine but it will not decide for anyone whether or not to take the jab.
As controversies over the effectiveness of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines continue, the Nigerian authorities decided to meet with Muslim scholars and imams led by the Sultan to seek their support.
In his remarks, Mustapha who is also the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, announced that the task force was working to begin vaccination of religious and traditional leaders.
He explained that this was aimed at boosting the confidence of the public and commended the Muslim scholars and imams for their support to the government in the management of the virus.
Ehanire, on his part, reiterated that the AstraZeneca vaccine was safe and those who have already been vaccinated, including himself, have yet to report any side effects.
According to him, the involvement of religious leaders is to speed up the administration of the vaccines, considering the impact of the disease on the Nigerian population.
For the NPHCDA chief, the government decided to convene the meeting in order to clear the air on the lingering controversy and commence mass vaccination.
He noted that the European Union Medicines Council had also reversed its initial decision to stop the use of the vaccine and said that it was safe for use.
Members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) have supported the continued rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine across the country.
They insisted that the vaccine was safe for use, stressing that no side effects had been reported by those who have so far received the jabs in Nigeria.
Concerns about the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which had been suspended in some countries, formed part of the discussions at the meeting of the NGF held on Wednesday.
The meeting which was presided over by the NFG Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, received a brief on the status of the vaccine roll out from its COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group (CTAG) led by renowned virologist, Professor Oyewale Tomori.
In its briefing, CTAG recommended that Nigeria should continue to vaccinate all eligible persons with the AstraZeneca vaccine, in line with the latest recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The governors, in their response, reiterated their belief in the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine and agreed to continuously encourage uptake of the vaccines by all eligible persons in their states.
They, however, called on the people to report any adverse events noticed after taking the vaccine jabs.
In his remarks, Governor Fayemi congratulated his colleagues for accepting to be vaccinated and declared that so far, the vaccines have not shown any signs of side effects as reported.
Away from the pandemic, he urged the governors to step up their support for the Forum of Governors’ Wives, who he said was driving the campaign against gender-based violence in the country.
The governors also deliberated on illicit drugs and related crimes and pledge their support for the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) by providing logistics support among others, to enable the agency to deliver on its mandate.
Read the communique issued at the end of the NGF meeting below:
We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), at our meeting held today, deliberated on issues affecting the country, particularly on the roll-out of the Covid19 vaccines and the attendant issues that have arisen since the rollout.
The chairman congratulated his colleagues for accepting to be vaccinated and declared that so far, the vaccines have not shown any signs of side-effects as is widely rumoured.
The Chairman also briefed his colleagues on the visit of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of States’ Universities, the activities of the governors’ spouses around Gender-Based Violence and the VAP Act, calling on his colleagues to step up to the plate in support of the activities of the Nigerian Governors’ Wives Forum nationwide and the progress made with the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability (SFTAS) project.
After the briefing by the Chairman:
The Forum received a presentation from the British Deputy High Commissioner (DHC) in Lagos, Nigeria, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, on the Accelerated C-19 Economic Support (ACES) programme which is aimed at supporting Nigeria’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.
The current focus of the ACES programme in Nigeria is trade facilitation through e-customs and digital jobs booster to activate the digital economy and accelerate the creation of local tech jobs in the country.
Following the presentation, the Forum committed to supporting a Federal Government-led cross-agency trade facilitation as a critical objective of the e-customs programme coordinated through the National Trade Facilitation Roadmap.
Nigeria will be able to achieve the objectives of the e-customs programme (i.e. enhanced user experience, and approximately 10% growth in customs revenue to hit the US$176 billion revenue target) with a broader cross-agency scope of reform, including fulfilling its Word Trade Organisation (WTO) trade facilitation agreement.
Members also committed to encouraging digital infrastructure expansion, accelerator programmes, and investment promotion to facilitate job creation in highly potential digital areas such as IT and business processing outsourcing, digital media, e-commerce, start-up innovation and smart manufacturing based on the comparative advantage of each State.
In the light of this, state governments are encouraged to set up one-stop shops to accelerate approvals and harmonise fees for priority broadband infrastructure across the country.
Furthermore, the NGF Secretariat will partner with the British High Commission, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), as well as partners at the federal level on the workability of the ACES programme and the role of state governments to maximise its opportunities.
The Forum’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group (CTAG) led by Professor Oyewale Tomori briefed members on the status of the COVID-19 vaccine roll out across the States including the increasing concerns of the public on the safety of AstraZeneca vaccines. CTAG recommended that Nigeria should continue to vaccinate all eligible persons with the AstraZeneca vaccine in line with the latest WHO recommendations as available evidence, including findings from research in which some CTAG members are involved showing that the Astra Zeneca vaccine is safe.
Governors reiterated their belief in the safety of the Astra Zeneca vaccines and commit to continuously encourage uptake of the vaccines by all eligible persons in their States, Governors also encourage the public to report any adverse events noticed following COVID-19 vaccination.
Following a briefing from the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Rtd. Gen. Muhammad Buba Marwa on Managing the Drug Crisis in the country, state governors committed to supporting the logistics and operational activities of NDLEA officials in their states, as well as programmes that will promote drug use prevention in the country.
Given the high correlation between drug use and insecurity in the country, the Forum will push for a greater role for NDLEA in Nigeria’s security fight especially as it relates to combating drug abuse and the illicit trafficking of drugs.
H.E Emmanuel A. Akabe Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State briefed the Forum on the inception activities of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) which was set up to accelerate economic growth and lift at least 100 million people out of poverty by 2030.
The PEAC has recommended the development of a poverty and growth strategy for the country focusing among others, on macroeconomic stabilisation, redistribution, structural transformation, and industrialisation.
The strategy will be overseen by the National Economic Council (NEC) through a Steering Committee which should include at least one governor from the six (6) geopolitical zones in the country.
On the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) PforR, the NGF Help Desk and SFTAS Programme Manager, Mr Olanrewaju Ajogbasile, reported that the Independent Verification Agency has begun preparatory activities for the validation of the 2020 SFTAS Annual Performance Assessment (APA).
He also presented highlights of upcoming technical assistance activities coordinated by the NGF Secretariat for states, including support on preparing Budget Implementation Reports in line with the National Chart of Accounts (NCoA); preparing a State Audit Law for the Offices of the State and Local Government Auditor-Generals; preparing State and Local Governments’ Audited Financial Statements for FY 2020; developing a Domestic Arrears Clearance Framework and Guide on the Online Publicly-Accessible Domestic Expenditure Arrears Database and the reconciliation of State Governments’ Outstanding Debt Obligations (Foreign and Domestic Debt) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Debt Management Office (DMO) and State Ministries of Finance.
The latest SFTAS results show that 28 States – (Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara State) achieved the disbursement linked indicator (DLI 12.1) to strengthen their procurement function for COVID-19 or emergency situations and facilitate the participation of SMEs in public procurement in the resilient recovery phase. These States will be eligible for SFTAS disbursements under the DLI.
Lastly, the Forum received a presentation on the 2018 audited accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) from the Facility for Oil Sector Transparency and Reform (FOSTER) led by its team lead, Mr Henry Adigun.
The Forum welcomed the fiduciary risk assessment of the corporation. The additional information will support the work of state governments in engaging with the Federal Government to improve the governance arrangement of the oil industry.
Lithuania on Tuesday followed more than a dozen other countries in suspending AstraZeneca vaccinations pending checks by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Health Minister Arunas Dulkys said the vaccine will not be used as a precaution “until the European Medicines Agency provides its final conclusions over its safety”.
Dulkys said that, while he “personally trusted” the vaccine and was ready to take the AstraZeneca shot, the temporary halt was the “safest solution” to minimise risks.
Lithuania’s medicines control agency said three people have developed blood clots in the Baltic state of 2.8 million people after taking the vaccine, but said it has no indications that the vaccine has caused them.
The EU’s medicines regulator has said it is looking at any serious side effects of all coronavirus vaccines and is expected to publish its conclusions on Thursday.
But the EMA said on Tuesday it was “firmly convinced” the benefits of AstraZeneca’s jab outweigh potential risks, insisting there was no evidence linking it to blood clots.
More than a dozen countries, including the EU’s biggest members France, Germany, and Italy, have suspended the jabs.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov on Friday suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, following similar steps in Denmark, Iceland, and Norway over safety concerns.
“I order a halt in vaccinations with the AstraZeneca vaccine until the European Medicines Agency dismisses all doubts about its safety,” a government press service statement quoted Borisov as saying.
The EMA announced on Thursday that countries can keep using AstraZeneca’s vaccine while it probes cases of blood clots that prompted the suspension of particular batches of the vaccine or all jabs with it in several countries.
But Borisov insisted Friday that vaccinations should stop until the country received “a written statement with an accurate and clearly confirmed diagnosis — can we or cannot we administer it.”
“Until then, you stop it,” he said.
Bulgaria falls last among EU countries in terms of its vaccination rate with only 270,000 people or 3.9 percent of the population receiving at least one dose so far.
The country has ordered far more AstraZeneca vaccines than Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna doses. It was using primarily the AstraZenica vaccine in recent weeks after deciding to scrap prioritisation lists and offer jabs to anyone willing to take them.
So even if it remained unclear on Friday how long the suspension could last, it was expected to severely disrupt vaccination plans.
Health officials already confirmed Thursday that the country had already used up almost completely 31,200 shots from a batch of the vaccine that was suspended in Austria earlier this week after the death of a 49-year-old nurse from “severe blood coagulation problems,” days after receiving the shot.
But Health Minister Kostadin Angelov had tried to dismiss any fears over the use of the vaccine saying that there was “no clear and precise conclusion that this batch is the cause of the adverse drug reaction associated with the lethal outcome.”
Nor have severe side effects been reported so far, health officials said.
Thailand abruptly delayed its roll-out of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine on Friday, stopping Premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha from getting the first jab as several European nations suspended their programmes over blood clot fears.
The kingdom was scheduled to start administering the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday, with Prayut expected to be filmed receiving the first injection.
But by 8:30 am (0130 GMT) the gruff former general was nowhere to be seen, the event was abruptly cancelled, and a press conference with health officials was called.
“Vaccine injection for Thais must be safe, we do not have to be in a hurry,” Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, an adviser for the country’s Covid-19 vaccine committee, told a press conference.
“Though the quality of AstraZeneca is good, some countries have asked for a delay. We will delay (as well).”
Denmark, Norway and Iceland suspended the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab the day before.
Austria on Sunday stopped using doses from one batch, after a 49-year-old nurse died of “severe blood coagulation problems” days after receiving an anti-Covid shot.
However, there is still no established link between the vaccine and blood clots, and Denmark stressed that its move was merely precautionary as it examined the risks more closely.
“We are waiting for Denmark and Austria to make a conclusion,” said Thai virologist Yong Poovarawan.
“We are delaying to let others prove (the side effects) of whether or not it is because of the vaccine or if it is only on that specific batch,” he said, adding that the batch Thailand received was made in a factory in Asia.
Thailand already rolled out its vaccination campaign last month, with the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine, and health workers were the first to receive the injections on February 28.
The Sinovac shipment arrived with huge fanfare at Bangkok’s airport, with a Chinese embassy official vowing that the vaccine export showed the “strengthened relations between China and Thailand”.
Thailand, which imposed stringent restrictions on people entering its territory to tackle the virus, has managed to limit its impact, registering just 26,000 cases and 85 deaths.