NPHCDA assures of AstraZeneca vaccine safety

NPHCDA assures of AstraZeneca vaccine safety

THE National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has assured Nigerians of the safety of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine saying no Nigerian has observed any adverse reaction, adding that all side effects reported by those who have taken the jab have been mild.

A statement signed by the Executive Director of the agency Dr. Faisal Shuaib, on Thursday in Abuja said:

“We are aware of precautionary concerns that have been raised regarding  one specific batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine, namely ABV5300.

“We understand that investigations are being conducted to determine if the batch is in any way linked to an observed side effect.

“While we await the outcome of the investigations, it is important to clearly state that Nigeria did not receive any doses from the batch of vaccines with issues.

Shuaib said that the government is satisfied that the clinical evidence indicates that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective.

“Our assessment is in line with countries such as Spain and the UK who have indicated that they will continue to administer the vaccine because it remains an important tool to protect against COVID-19.

“The safety of vaccines delivered to Nigeria is paramount to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19. For this reason, it has enhanced multi-sectoral collaboration among stakeholders and technical entities such as the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), NPHCDA, NAFDAC, the WHO and UNICEF whose cooperation ensures the highest global standards are met for vaccines delivered to Nigeria before they are distributed to Nigerians. Clear, rigorous protocols are being followed to safeguard the health of Nigerians,” he noted.

“We are continuing to monitor the developments regarding the ABV5300 batch and will share further information as it becomes available,” the statement further said.

It will be recalled that health authorities in Denmark and Norway also on Thursday temporarily suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine shots after reports of the formation of blood clots in some who have been vaccinated.

The move comes after Austria stopped using a batch of AstraZeneca shots while investigating a death from coagulation disorders and an illness from a pulmonary embolism.

Danish health authorities said the country’s decision to suspend the shots for two weeks came after a 60-year old woman in Denmark, who was given an AstraZeneca shot from the same batch that was used in Austria, formed a blood clot and died.

The authorities said they had responded “to reports of possible serious side effects, both from Denmark and other European countries.”

“It is currently not possible to conclude whether there is a link. We are acting early, it needs to be thoroughly investigated,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said on Twitter.

The vaccine would be suspended for 14 days in Denmark.

“This is a cautionary decision,” Geir Bukholm, director of infection prevention and control at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI), told a news conference.

FHI did not say how long the suspension would last.

“We … await information to see if there is a link between the vaccination and this case with a blood clot,” Bukholm said.

Also on Thursday, Italy said it would suspend use of the AstraZeneca batch that was used in Austria.

Some health experts said there was little evidence to suggest the AstraZeneca vaccine should not be administered and that the cases of blood clots corresponded with the rate of such cases in the general population.

“This is a super-cautious approach based on some isolated reports in Europe,” Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, told Reuters.

“The problem with spontaneous reports of suspected adverse reactions to a vaccine are the enormous difficulty of distinguishing a causal effect from a coincidence,” he said, adding that the COVID-19 disease was very strongly associated with blood clotting.

AstraZeneca in a written statement, said the safety of its vaccine had been extensively studied in human trials and peer-reviewed data had confirmed the vaccine was generally well tolerated.

The drug maker said earlier this week its shots were subject to strict and rigorous quality controls and that there had been “no confirmed serious adverse events associated with the vaccine”. It said it was in contact with Austrian authorities and would fully support their investigation.

  • With Agency Reports

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