Wednesday, March 17, 2021 5:47 pm
By Nehru Odeh
It seems like a catch 22 scenario. And the world is torn between taking the much-touted AstraZeneca vaccine and rejecting it. Either way, it seems, lead to the same fatal point.
This scare is borne out of stories making the rounds that the vaccine, which is supposed to put an end to the covid-19 pandemic is itself deadly. As a result of that many countries in Europe have suspended use of the vaccine because of growing concern over reports of blood clotting among some recipients.
While many would do anything to be free from the dreaded covid-19 virus, they would rather not touch the Astrazenca Covid-19 vaccine with a long pole.
Nigeria is no different. The scare is gaining momentum here as there are already reports of side effects associated with the vaccine. Kazeem Ugbodaga, editor of PMNEWS, once narrated the hellish experience he had the very day he took a jab of the Astrazeneca vaccine at the Infectious Disease Hospital, IDH, in Yaba, Lagos.
In his story entitled A ’hellish’ night with AstraZeneca vaccine: A reporter’s experience, Ugbodaga, painting a graphic picture of what he went through, narrated how he had very high temperature, acute body pains and was shivering the night after he took the vaccine:
“I was rudely jolted out of sleep few minutes later with serious shivering I never felt before. I took the bed sheet and wrapped myself in, but I shook like a leaf.
“Aside the shivering, internal high temperature set in. My whole system was aflame. I woke up my wife and said: “dear, touch my body, is it hot?” She said “no.”
“But I could feel a hell of fire within me. The temperature was accompanied with sharp body pains. I could not sleep, pains, high temperature, headache and chill set in.
Though his temperature normalized, Ugbodaga later called some of his colleagues who took the vaccine alongside him and “the story was the same, with slight variation.”
Intriguing? Certainly. However, Ugbodaga later allayed fears over the vaccine, saying that the side effects are not as deadly as people erroneously believe, adding that they disappear in a few day’s time.
Ugbodaga’s submission seems to be in sync with the views of many who believe that the side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine could be somewhat exaggerated. AstraZeneca has said there is no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots in those individuals who have received the shot compared with those who have not.
“It may be nothing, we may be overreacting and I sincerely hope that in a week’s time that we will have been accused of being overly-cautious,” Ireland’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn was once quoted as saying.
In Nigeria, more than 8, 000 people, including President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and some state governors have taken the vaccine since the roll out of the vaccine commenced in Nigeria, yet none of reports on the side effects of the vaccine such as blood clotting has so far been reported in the country.
“I am pleased to say that their excellencies, the president and vice president, as well as strategic leaders who have taken the vaccine along with frontline healthcare workers, are all doing very well,” so said Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, at the media briefing by the Presidential Taskforce on the Control COVID-19 on Monday in Abuja.
He also said the situation has helped to demonstrate that the vaccine is safe. “I assure everyone that the vaccine is safe. NAFDAC is collaborating with WHO, manufacturers and partners to evaluate other vaccines and also add to our portfolio of vaccines,” he added.
The Executive Director of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said there has been no single report of serious adverse effect.
“As part of COVID-19 vaccine launch, which commenced last week across the country, over 8,000 Nigerians have been immunised so far. We have not received any official report of serious adverse effects from any of those who have been vaccinated.”
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) via a statement by its Head of Public Relations Unit, Mohammad Ohitoto also assured Nigerians that there is no cause for alarm.
“While we await the outcome of the investigations, it is important to clearly state that Nigeria did not receive any doses from the batch of vaccines that is at issue.
“Vaccinations in Nigeria started earlier this month and we have not observed any similar adverse reactions. All side effects reported by those who have been administered the vaccine have been mild.
The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu also assured Nigerians, saying that Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective. He made this disclosure on Tuesday in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.
“We are very confident of the vaccine we introduced in the country and that it would become a game changer in the fight against COVID 19.
“I and other front line staff have been vaccinated and I am still standing,” he said
Still, in a bid to allay fears over the vaccine, the World Health Organization, WHO, has also called on countries using AstraZeneca vaccine to continue with its rollout.
“We do not want people to panic and we would, for the time being, we recommend that countries continue vaccinating with AstraZeneca,” WHO’s Chief Scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, told a press briefing.