NIGERIA is to receive a consignment of 29.8m doses of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Assess Facility (Covax) facility by the end of May or in early June.
Funded by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Covax was set-up to divide about 2bn doses of vaccines across 92 low-and middle-income countries. So far, Nigeria has received 4m doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through Covax and India has augmented this by donating a further 100,000 doses of its Covishield coronavirus vaccine.
Now the programme is being expanded with the latest Johnson & Johnson package according to Dr Faisal Shuaib, the executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA). He added that by June, the country would have completed the process of administering the second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines.
Dr Shuaib said: “The federal government has signed off to receive up to 29.8m doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines through the African Union platform. We are aware of the global scarcity of Covid-19 vaccines due to high demands especially in countries where vaccines are being produced.”
Having received 3.94m doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines in early March, Nigeria commenced vaccination beginning with healthcare workers and so far, over 1m people have since been vaccinated. Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine is compatible with standard vaccine storage and distribution channels with ease of delivery to remote areas.
According to Dr Shuaib vaccination is still ongoing in all states of Nigeria, with 1,175,285 eligible Nigerians vaccinated as of April 26. This represents 58.4% of people eligible to receive the vaccines.
Due to limited doses of vaccine available, the Nigerian government recently directed states to halt vaccination once they use half of the doses allocated to them. Nigeria’s federal government had said it plans to vaccinate 109m people against the Covid-19 virus over a period of two years.
Nigerian health authorities have said that only persons 18 years and above will be vaccinated in four phases. However, Dr Shuaib said the government anticipates a delay in vaccine supply, which may also affect and impact the remaining phases of the vaccination campaign.
Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently suspended administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over six reported cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot. However, he suspension has since been lifted.
These six cases occurred among women aged 18 and 48 and symptoms occurred six to 13 days after vaccination, according to Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the CDC and Peter Marks, the director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. European regulators also linked similar, highly unusual blood clots to the AstraZeneca Covid-19 shot but found that the benefits of the drug outweighed any risks.