The Federal Government has directed all states administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to halt the vaccination exercise when they have used half of the quantity they earlier received. The decision was taken by the Director-General of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaibu on behalf of the federal government saying states are to suspend the vaccination exercise when they have used up half of the number of doses they received. Accordingly, the decision necessitated by the fact that those who have received the first jab should be able to take the second jab, since the possibility of getting the second supply of the vaccine from the company on time is not certain.
The health agency said the decision has become necessary due to possible delay envisaged in the supply of the next batch of the doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and this could affect those who have collected the first jab of the vaccine if the second one is not available on time.
It was revealed that the demand for the vaccine in the market has increased because of the demand by the European Union and a new policy by the Indian government to prioritize its 1.2 billion citizens before considering other developing countries like ours, Nigeria.
Confirming the authentication of the directive, Vigil 360 gathered that the state Minister of Health, Dr. Olurinimbe Mamora, affirmed that they asked the stats to halt the vaccination halfway until more vaccines are made available as they are not sure when the second supply will arrive Nigerian shore.
The Minister said, “On the issue of stopping at half doses, we thought this is what wisdom dictates because in a situation where we seem to be in short supply, it stands to good reason to ensure that those who have had their first dose should be given the opportunity of having the second dose.
He explained that “It is better to have a pool of people who have received full vaccination rather than just do it halfway for everybody, which I think would not be the best in the circumstance. And you are not really covered if you have your full dosage.”
However, when Mamora was asked when the next supply would be made available, he said, ‘is a seller market” and he could not be certain on that.
Meanwhile, he said Nigeria was negotiating with Russians who are producing the Sputnik V vaccine and will see how to make it available in Nigeria.
Assuring the public, the Mister reiterated that, “The truth is there is a challenge. However, we are not hopeless. The COVAX facility is not the only one we rely on. There is also AVATT, the regional facility which is the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team. So, we definitely will be looking to AVATT to help increase the initial allocation in the circumstances with what is happening vis-a-vis production and supply from India.
He explained, “Both AVATT and COVAX are multilateral facilitators, but we also have bilateral negotiations. For example, the Sputnik is bilateral in the sense that it is government to government. Sputnik is Russian and as soon as we have the dossier and approval from NAFDAC, then we will consider it.”
Meanwhile, Mamora said, the Federal may need to increase its budget for the vaccine since the AstraZeneca which was considered cheap in the market is facing a shortage in supply.