The Federal Government has destroyed over one million doses of expired Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccines.
At the event in Abuja, the Executive Director National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib said this became necessary as the remaining vaccines would expire by the end of December twenty twenty-one and the potency of the vaccines will be ineffective.
Dr. Shuaib, who explained that Nigeria had successfully withdrawn about 1,066,214, doses of expired Astra Zeneca vaccines from across the country, said the expiration was due to delays in the shipment of vaccine doses, especially the AstraZeneca vaccine, which many countries couldn’t roll out before expiration.
According to him, “As you can see these vaccines have now been deposited by the Abuja Environmental Protection Agency. We have come through in our promise to all Nigerians to be transparent in our delivery of vaccines. These vaccines did not expire before we took the decision to withdraw them today is an opportunity for Nigerians to have further faith in our vaccination program.
Because we have lived up to the expectation of all Nigerians. We had the option if we were to take the advice of some experts to try and use these vaccines even beyond the label expiry date, but working together with our sister agency, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), who took that decision to destroy these vaccines at the point that they got expired.”
Dr. Shuaib also acknowledge the fact that the vaccines were almost expired but, because the government wanted to satisfy and protect Nigerians the donations were accepted.
“We offer to accept these vaccines worked collaboratively with NPHCDA to ensure that none of the vaccines were bad, they were also tested and ensure that the vaccines were in good condition. We rolled out under very difficult circumstances.”
We actually got our frontline health workers, working night and day. Staff of the NPHCDA did not know Saturdays or Sundays. We were working around the clock on very extreme situations just to make sure that Nigerians have access to vaccines, even when these vaccines were not widely available. We’re able to vaccinate over 10 million Nigerians with these short shelf life vaccines.”
He explained further, “We still have short shelf life vaccines in the country. They are still potent. They have not reached the end of use dates and the health workers are still going around every community and settlement to ensure Nigerians are vaccinated.”
In her remark, Director General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, said that Nigerians deserve the best quality of medicines, vaccines, Hence the two agencies had been working day and night to ensure the vaccines are tested before its used and the agency had done a safety indicating test to ensure that Nigerians get the vaccines that are of quality and potent.
“Nigeria has one of the best vaccination immunization program in the world. UNICEF mentioned this last year. But we started this journey months before the vaccines came. In terms of what we are witnessing today.”
She said that when the vaccines got into Nigeria, they were received by the NPHCDA because it is the primary job to immunize the country.
“However, we have been working night and day together. And what he said about the vaccines coming with short expiration dates pose a challenge to us as a country. But because of the love of the country, we decided to walk with that tight timespan or challenge,” she said.
According to the NAFDAC Director-General, “We approved the dozier first when the vaccines come. Nobody uses the vaccines unless NAFDAC said so, this was part of quality control that the agency had been doing and in the regulatory language its called “market control”
She explained further, “The vaccines come to NPHCDA, which is tested in the lab immediately people come from Lagos to sample, we test it, it’s not just testing also, we put it on dip database a track and trace database that will show us where the vaccines are in the country.”
Professor Adeyeye noted that NAFDAC was the only regulatory agency in Africa that was doing that for the COVID-19 vaccine.