Medical professionals in the country have advised the Federal Government to procure the Oxford/Astra-Zeneca, Russia’s Sputnik, or the Novavax vaccine in the national efforts to contain the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise in separate interviews, the experts said the type of vaccines that Nigeria should shop for are those suitable for the country’s storage facilities.
Recall that the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, at a press conference of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja last Tuesday said 100,000 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine would be received by the country at the end of this month.
However, experts say given the electricity challenge in the country, the Pfizer vaccine will not be suitable for Nigeria.
According to them, the Pfizer vaccine needs to be kept extremely cold at -70⁰C. The Johnson &Johnson vaccine is required to be kept at -2⁰C; the AstraZeneca vaccine at -0 to 10⁰C, while the Novavax vaccine should be kept at -4 to 8⁰C
Also, WHO had warned that people with a history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the COVID-19 vaccine and most pregnant women should not take the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
WHO also said that children under the age of 16 and international travellers who are not part of prioritised group should also not take the vaccine.
According to the world health body, though the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine is safe and effective, there are specific populations for whom vaccination is not recommended, either due to contraindications, lack of supply, or limited data.
Speaking with our correspondent, President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Sam Ohuabunwa, said the AstraZeneca or Russia’s Sputnik vaccine is suitable for the country’s storage facilities.
“The AstraZeneca vaccine will be the best for our environment or Russia’s Sputnik vaccine.
“These ones can be stored in our normal refrigeration; but the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines will require extra refrigeration and that is what we are trying to sort out,” Ohuabunwa said.
He said that pharmacists will be involved in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines when they arrive in the country.
The PSN president, however, expressed concerns that there might be logistics and cold chain challenges.
Ohuabunwa added that members of the association were working on how to ensure appropriate cold chain and logistics for the transportation of the vaccines.
“I am glad that we are planning to get the vaccine because many people are dying of COVID-19 but not reporting them.
“There is a big wave of COVID-19 that is very lethal because some people are dying and I’m not sure they are reporting.
“So, Nigeria should make every effort, pay every price, to make sure we get the vaccine.
“Vaccines are medicine or medicinal products and the distribution and handling of all medicines is in the purview of pharmacists.
“So, it is within the competence of pharmacies to handle the logistics of delivery and distribution of vaccines.
“Our worry has always been how we can provide the logistics, to ensure that we have the appropriate infrastructure, because if it is Pfizer vaccine or the Moderna vaccine, they all ought to be stored at very low temperatures and that is the challenge, given the electricity supply problems in our country.
“That is what is going to pose logistics challenges for pharmacists and all those who are involved in the logistics of moving these vaccines from the ports to points of administration.
“So, that is what the PSN and all the pharmacists in the health system are battling with now, to make sure that when the vaccines arrive, we have the appropriate cold chain and appropriate logistics to move them and utilise them without them being denatured,” he said.