EU declares AstraZeneca vaccine safe, effective, as NGF backs its continuous use

COVID-19: Governors reiterate belief in safety of Astra Zeneca vaccines*All states except Kogi have received COVID-19 vaccine doses

*Lagos vaccinates 12,720 persons in 48 hrs

*Nearly 7m doses administered in Africa

By Sola Ogundipe Olasunkanmi Akoni

THE European Medicines Agency, EMA, which is the European Union’s most authoritative regulator of medicinal products, has declared that the  AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective for use, even as the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, has supported the continued rollout of the  vaccine across the country.

Making the declaration on Thursday after the  meeting of its safety committee, PRAC, concluded its preliminary review of a signal of blood clots in people who received the shot, the EU regulator said it  found that the jab was not associated with a higher risk of clots.

Addressing a press conference,Emer Cooke, the agency’s executive director, said:  “This is a safe and effective vaccine. Its benefits in protecting people from COVIDovid-19 with the associated risks of death and hospitalisation outweigh the possible risks.”

Cooke said the EMA’s expert committee on medicine safety,  found that “the vaccine is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of blood clots”.

The EMA’s safety committee said that the benefits of the  AstraZeneca jab still outweigh its risks despite possible link to rare blood clots associated with low levels of blood platelets.

It said individual EU states could decide whether and when to re-start vaccinations using the AstraZeneca shot.

The committee   recommended raising awareness of  possible risks, ensuring they are included in the product information.

It also advised healthcare providers and the public should be educated about the signs and symptoms to look out for.

Peter Arlett, head of safety monitoring for the EMA, said: “The primary assessment is a vigorous scientific assessment, looking at all the available evidence, to see whether the evidence would suggest a causal link between these very rare but serious events that we’ve seen and vaccination, or whether they are coincidental.”

NGF backs use of AstraZeneca vaccine

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.

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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 NGF 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, Prof. Oyewale Tomori.

In its briefing, CTAG recommended that Nigeria should continue to vaccinate all eligible persons with the AstraZeneca jab, 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, 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.

All states except Kogi have received vaccine doses

Doses of the Astrazeneca vaccine have now been delivered to 35 states in the country and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, except Kogi.

Disclosing this on Thursday at the end of the  monthly meeting of the National Economic Council, NEC, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, Dr Fiasal Shuaib, said Kogi state was yet to receive doses due to the non-repair of their cold-chain store coupled with the state’s concerns around the contradictory information about the vaccines.

“The vaccination application has been launched in most States’ Treatment Centres even against distractions and criticism of the FG’s efforts to ensure availability of vaccines in the Nation.

“The roll-out of the vaccines across Healthcare front-line workers and other health support staff was scheduled to commence by March 15, 2021, in some States, with the intention of wider coverage after the training of the states’ health workers across board,” he noted.

Further, Shuaib said to  ensure accountability in the distribution of the vaccines, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, had been co-opted to support the PTF on vaccine accountability to ensure the safekeeping of the vaccines.

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He added that  there was a plan to commence weekly record of a dashboard showing level and efficacy of the inoculation by the end of Monday, March 15, 2021.”

12,720 persons vaccinated in Lagos in 48 hrs

The Lagos State government vaccinated 12,720 people with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine 48 hours after the vaccination exercise commenced in the state. The state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, who disclosed this on his  Twitter account @ProfAkinAbayomi, on Thursday said of those  vaccinated, 6,535 were males, while 6,185  were females.

Lagos  officially flagged off  its vaccination exercise on  March 12 at the Infectious Disease Hospital, IDH, Yaba, with  268 people vaccinated on the first day at three centres, while 4,954 were vaccinated on March 15 across the 88 designated vaccine sites across the state.

Giving a breakdown of  March 16, Abayomi said  a total of 7,498 persons were vaccinated  of which 3,770 were males and 3,728 females.

READ ALSO: Africa’s COVID-19 cases surpass 3.3m as death toll hits 82,000 — WHO

“Number of male healthcare workers vaccinated were 1,510 and female healthcare workers were 1, 932, making a total of 3,442.

“Other frontline workers vaccinated were 2,116 males and 1,680 females, totalling 3,796,” he said, noting that 260 strategic leaders in the state were inoculated, comprising 144 men and 116 women.

No adverse effects in 280 persons vaccinated in Ekiti

The Ekiti State government on Thursday said that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine  has not manifested any lethal signs, and that than 280 persons vaccinated in the state showed no  adverse effect.

The government said a total of 50,000 persons will be vaccinated in the first phase of the exercise, with frontline medical and public officers  benefiting first before moving to the local level.

The Senior Special Assistant on Public Health to the Governor, Dr Jimlas Ogunsakin, said part of the vaccines have been deployed to the local governments to vaccinate some selected set of citizens.

“Top government functionaries have been vaccinated, including Governor Kayode Fayemi. In totality, 280 persons have been vaccinated and with none manifesting  adverse effects

“Every drug has side effect, but nobody has reported  any strange signs except those with a little bit of high temperature and little pain which subsided easily. Butwe have planned for any  likely adverse reaction and we have trained our medical staff on how best to respond to this.”

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Nearly 7m vaccine doses administerd in Africa

Nearly 7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Africa, after months of waiting on the side-lines for vaccines. Altogether 38 African countries have received more than 25 million COVID-19 vaccines and 30 have started vaccination campaigns.

Disclosing this on Thursday in a virtual press conference, the World Health Organisation Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said more than 16 million vaccine doses have so far been shipped to 27 countries on the continent through the COVAX initiative.

“Although Africa received vaccines late and in limited quantities, a lot of ground has been covered in a short space of time. This is due to the continent’s vast experience in mass vaccination campaigns and the determination of its leaders and people to effectively curb COVID-19.

“Compared with countries in other regions that accessed vaccines much earlier, the initial rollout phase in some African countries has reached a far higher number of people.”

Moeti noted that just two weeks after receiving COVAX-funded AstraZeneca vaccines, Ghana has administered more than 420,000 doses and covered over 60 percent of the targeted population in the first phase in the Greater Accra region – the hardest hit by the pandemic.

In the first nine days, it is estimated the country delivered doses to around 90 percent of health workers.  In Morocco, more than 5.6 million vaccinations have taken place in the past seven weeks, while in Angola; vaccines have reached over 49,000 people, including more than 28,000 health workers in the past week.

“Countries are clocking an impressive vaccination pace, but we must ensure this speed doesn’t slow down to a crawl,” Moeti stated.

Meanwhile, more than four million COVID-19 cases have been reported in  Africa with 43,000 new cases in the past week, and 108,000 lives lost.

Vanguard News Nigeria

The post EU declares AstraZeneca vaccine safe, effective, as NGF backs its continuous use appeared first on Vanguard News.

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