The federal government has told states that they must avoid prescribing the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination until they have used half of the doses allotted to them.
The directive was reportedly issued by Dr. Faisal Shuaibu, Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).
This suggests that if a state was given 100,000 doses, it would have to avoid vaccination until the doses reached 50,000 so that anyone who had their first jab could get their second.
This was inevitable due to the possibility of a delay in receiving the next batch of AstraZeneca vaccines. A increase in demand from the European Union, as well as a new strategy from India, the vaccine’s manufacturer, have caused the delay.
India declared last week that domestic AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination will be prioritized for its 1.2 billion residents.
Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, Minister of State for Health, announced the latest directive to states in an interview with The PUNCH.
He said states were asked to stop vaccination halfway until more vaccines arrive because it was the smartest thing to do since it is a double-dose vaccine.
“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.
“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,” he said.
Mamora, who said he was not sure when more vaccines would be available, disclosed that the federal government was already having talks with other parties including Russia, which is producing the Sputnik V vaccine.
“The truth is there is a challenge. However, we are not hopeless. The COVAX facility is not the only one we rely on,” he said.
“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.
“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.”