NAFDAC raises alarm over fake COVID-19 vaccines already in Nigeria

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) says it is concerned about reports of fake COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria.

In a public alert raised by NAFDAC Director-General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, on Friday, January 15, 2021, she warned Nigerians that the agency has not yet approved any vaccine for public use.

She noted that receiving such unapproved vaccines could lead to COVID-like illnesses or other serious diseases that could kill.

"NAFDAC is pleading with the public to beware. No COVID-19 vaccines have been approved by NAFDAC," she cautioned.

Adeyeye also warned private companies, big corporations, and government agencies not to order any vaccines that have not been examined and approved by the regulatory body.

She said NAFDAC has already started discussions with COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers concerning potential Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), registration or licensing of their product.

The agency will welcome their EUA applications if Phase 3 clinical data are very convincing and robust with regards to safety and efficacy, and the vaccines have been submitted to the World Health Organisation (WHO) for Emergency Use Listing.

"NAFDAC will use 'Reliance' or 'Recognition' to expedite Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) for vaccines already approved by more matured regulatory authorities," Adeyeye said.

Since Nigeria's first COVID-19 case was detected last February, over 105,000 infections have been recorded, with a dreaded second wave of infections kicking off in December.

Hopes about ending the pandemic has improved over the past few weeks with the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, the United Kingdom, and a few other countries.

A mass deployment of vaccines is expected in 2021, but attempts at a successful vaccination campaign are weighed down by concerns about the vaccines, especially in developing countries like Nigeria.

According to a public opinion poll conducted by NOI Polls in December 2020, 61% of respondents expressed willingness to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it is made readily available in Nigeria.

An analysis of respondents across regions showed that 72% of Nigerians in the north are willing to accept the vaccine, while only 47% of Nigerians in the south are eager to receive it.

More Muslims (72%) are also willing to receive the vaccine compared to Christians (52%), according to NOI Polls' analysis.

Of the 39% of respondents unwilling to take the vaccine, the top three reasons are "Government are just using us to make money", "I won't be infected, I believe in God", and "I don’t like the vaccine".

Despite the willingness of majority of respondents to receive the vaccine, only 36% want it to be made compulsory for all citizens with the top reason being for public safety.

Nigeria hopes to start a mass vaccination campaign at the end of January, with the delivery of 42 million doses of the vaccine expected by the end of the year.

That figure is expected to inoculate less than half of the nation's estimated population of 200 million.

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