HomeNEWSNMA makes a U-turn, backs revalidation of vaccines

NMA makes a U-turn, backs revalidation of vaccines

The National President, Nigerian Medical Association, Prof Innocent Ujah, on Friday made a U-turn on the need for a clinical trial. He said since Nigeria is in an emergency situation, the COVID-19 vaccine will no longer need to pass through a clinical trial.

Ujah, who had earlier said the COVID-19 vaccine should be subjected to a clinical trial before being administered on Nigerians, said in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, that the efficacy of the vaccine had been established by the scientific process.

He explained that since Nigeria and Africa as a whole were not involved in the clinical trial, “it is good to revalidate so that we can also report some likely untoward effects – side effects.”

He said, “When we have that, we can tell our people that it (the vaccine) cannot kill our people but we can tell the people the likely reactions some people may likely get. That is revalidation. It is not that we are to go through a barrage of clinical trials because to do clinical trial particularly in an emergency situation will take some time.”

Ujah, who is also the Vice-Chancellor of Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, Benue State, said even though there was yet to be any vaccine for HIV all along, scientists got a vaccine for COVID-19 within nine months and was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States because it required an “emergency authorisation.”

COVID-19 vaccination: Scientists caution FG

Meanwhile, as Nigeria prepares to spend about N400bn to procure the vaccines, some scientists have cautioned the Federal Government against a mass vaccination plan.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria, a professor of immunology at the University of Ibadan, Ganiyu Arinola, said even though no amount of investment on health is a waste, such nationwide vaccination programme might not be the best use of the nation’s scarce resources.

Arinola said, “The mere availability of COVID-19 vaccine is insufficient to give broad immunological protection. As of now, it will be advisable to be cautious in the use of current COVID-19 vaccines because so many facts are still emerging on the vaccines.”

He added, “Among other concerns about COVID-19 vaccination in low resource countries is a question; do their benefits outweigh the risks or how safe are the existing COVID-19 vaccines?”

In the same vein, Dr Olubusuyi Adewumi, a virologist at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, said decisions on COVID-19 vaccination must be guided by scientific evidence.

Adewumi, who noted that the country had not been as hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic as other countries, said mass vaccination may not be the best strategy for Nigeria.

“However, the question is how did we arrive at such a decision? Was it guided by scientific findings? Can we afford it?” He said.

Also, the Executive Director, International Research Centre, Institute of Human Virology Nigeria, Prof Alash’le Grace Abimiku, said in view of the expense, the spike in infections and the world’s direction in terms of vaccination, now might not be the right time for any clinical trial with an approved COVID-19 vaccine.

Abimiku added, “What Nigeria needs to do at this time is to engage expert institutions that can put in place all the necessary processes to closely monitor and document the protective level and any side effects or safety concerns of the vaccine in our population in readiness for vaccination of its population with the approved COVID-19 vaccines.”

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