Oxford AstraZeneca: Nigeria insists vaccine safe as 13 countries suspend use


The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has insisted that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is safe for Nigerians despite the growing global concerns over possible side effects.

Dr Mukhtar Muhammad, the National Incident Manager (NIM) of the PTF on COVID-19 made this known on Monday in Abuja at the joint national briefing of the task force.

However, on Thursday night, eight European countries – Denmark, Norway, Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Iceland, and Luxembourg – suspended all or part of its roll-out as a precaution.

The suspension was to enable them investigate concerns relating to blood clots and other side effects caused by the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.

Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Netherlands are the latest countries to suspend the use of the vaccine over concerns that it causes blood clots.

Spain’s health minister, Carolina Darias on Monday said: “It is a temporary and precautionary suspension until the risks can be evaluated by the European Medicines Agency.”

But Nigeria’s Muhammad insisted that the clinical trials had shown that the side effects are “generally mild’’.

He said that the WHO had in the last three days, through a series of briefings, vouched for the vaccine’s safety and efficacy.

He said it had been proven that that the vaccine has about 70 percent efficacy level.

He advised those who might have received the vaccine, but who have felt side reactions for more than 24 hours, to report through the appropriate channels at the state level.

“The arrival of the vaccine is something that is very good and exciting in the sense that a combination of the vaccine and the non-pharmaceutical interventions can help us see the light at the end of the tunnel within a very short period of time.

“In the last few hours, we have suffered a major setback regarding the content safety and efficacy of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.

“We have seen in the news how some countries have deferred the usage of this vaccine or have suspended its use. That list of the European countries is growing.

“It is very reassuring to see that the regulatory agencies in those countries have continued to emphasise that the vaccine is safe and that the incidence of blood clots reported in the patients is not higher than the risk of blood clotting in people who are not vaccinated. That is really something reassuring.”

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