The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has endorsed the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria.
In a statement, the Director-General of NAFDAC, Dr. Mojisola Adeyeye, said that the vaccine can be stored at 2 to 8-degree centigrade.
According to NAFDAC, there are three additional vaccines undergoing evaluation; but the evaluation on Astrazeneca shows that the vaccine is effective against the UK variant of the virus which has been reported in Nigeria.
Adeyeye dismissed reports about the presence of the South African variant in Nigeria; adding that the agency has over 30 herbal medicine undergoing review for listing.
The vaccine was recently approved by the World Health Organization, WHO, for emergency use.
NAFDAC stated it got the dossier of the vaccine a week ago; and the NAFDAC safety committee went to work immediately to evaluate its safety and efficacy for Nigerians.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, also known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, or AZD1222, is a viral vector vaccine. Scientists used an adenovirus, originally derived from chimpanzees; and modified it with the aim of training the immune system to mount a strong response against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).
It is only the second COVID-19 jab to have received WHO authorisation, after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
“The WHO listed two versions of the AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use; giving the green light for these vaccines to be rolled out globally through Covax,” the UN health agency said in a statement.
The two versions given the seal of approval are being produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII); and by SKBio in South Korea.
Separate reviews were needed for each production process; although the vaccine is the same.
“Countries with no access to vaccines to date will finally be able to start vaccinating their health workers as well as populations at risk, contributing to the Covax facility’s goal of equitable vaccine distribution,” said WHO Assistant Director-General Mariangela Simao.
“But we must keep up the pressure to meet the needs of priority populations everywhere and facilitate global access. To do that, we need two things — a scale-up of manufacturing capacity, and also developers’ early submission of their vaccines for WHO review.”