ASTRAZENECA: COVID-19 vaccines are safe, Nigerian experts insist

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ASTRAZENECA: COVID-19 vaccines are safe, Nigerian experts insist

ASTRAZENECA: COVID-19 vaccines are safe, Nigerian experts insist

Say side effects are not unexpected; Urge NPHCDA to create more public awareness

By Sola Ogundipe & Chioma Obinna

Health experts have reassured Nigerians of the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, saying the mild side effects as reported by persons who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine across the country were normal side effects and should not be exaggerated.

Reacting in a chat to reports of side effects by some Nigerians who took the vaccination in Lagos, renowned Virologist, Prof Oyewale Tomori, however, said the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA should have warned ahead of time that individuals may experience side effects which include pain and swelling at the site of injection, aches, fever, nausea, and chills among others.

Tomori said the agency should have also warned that the side effects that are temporary could last for 24 hours or more.

He said on a global level, over 300 million people have received COVID-19 vaccines, even as he avowed that so far, none had died and the death convincingly associated with the vaccines.

“Of the nine or 10 European countries suspending temporarily the roll-out of the vaccine, in how many were there reports of blood clots or deaths?

“Only three and it is like one or two cases in between half a million or a million vaccinations, and more importantly, none of these cases has been conclusively linked with the vaccines,” he added.

Tomori explained that blood clots occur normally at the rate of 1 or 2 per 1,000, adding that so far with more than 300 million vaccinations, the reported and yet COVID vaccine unlinked blood clots was about 1 in 135,000.

“So what are we talking about? This is a safe vaccine; there will be normal and natural side effects. We should note and report them and seek medical attention for any severe cases. “

Further, he cited that for every 1 million polio vaccinations you get about one or two that would come down with full-blown polio, adding that it does not mean that for the sake of two of such cases, polio eradication should stop.

“The issue is a balance of benefit, the one or two persons who react normally and naturally to injection should be glad their body systems are functioning well and should not embellish, exaggerate and turn their experience into a horror motion movie.

“If you experience any of these symptoms, please report to the doctor or where you got your vaccination. To also note that some people are allergic to one thing or the other, therefore you should inform the doctor of any allergies prior to taking the vaccine,” Tomori admonished.

Vaccine not a risk for blood clots

The National Incident Manager, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, PTF, Dr Mukthar Mohammed, said even though concerns over the reported side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines were giving the world some concern, but said for the scientific world, there was little to worry about.

“Nigeria will continue to administer the vaccine, documentation so far has shown that it is safe to use.  Anyone that has received the vaccine and has noticed symptoms should report to the health authorities.”

Mohammed noted that the suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine by a number of European countries over cases of blood clots and at least one fatality among recipients of the vaccine as a precautionary measure.

“It is not an established fact that the vaccine is associated with a thromboembolic attack (the blocking of a blood vessel by a particle that has broken away from a blood clot at its site of formation), but the investigation continues.”

According to him, the incidence of blood clots among the general population in Europe is higher than what was found in the population that was vaccinated.

“This is to tell us that the vaccine itself is not a risk for having a thromboembolic attack. Epidemiologically, we know that, however, it is a source of concern if some people have reported the symptoms and it needs to be evaluated.”

The AstraZeneca vaccine had been administered in over 50 countries and global data is required before a scientific decision can be taken.

“For now, their action is precautionary, it is not based on a cost-effect relationship and there is no established fact to show that vaccination with this particular vaccine, or even with the batch of the vaccine that they are talking about, has a higher risk than people that are vaccinated with other vaccines or people not vaccinated at all.

Side effects not unexpected

In the view of a Consultant Family Physician/Field Epidemiologist, Dr. Riyad Mohammed, all drugs have side effects that are similar to immunisation and vaccination.

“This is not an unexpected event, our own drugs and immunisations do have side effects, but the reason for the suspension is to investigate if indeed there is a positive causality relationship between the vaccination and the adverse events.”

He said there are side effects of vaccines and people react differently.

“Nigerians should be aware that when they take the vaccine, they could have very mild symptoms, but the symptoms should not persist. Normally they go away on their own.

“When you take the vaccine, we will watch you for a few minutes,  to make sure you do not have severe adverse effects.

“What we fear most is the anaphylactic shock, which is a reaction that can occur as a result of exposure to an allergen, which could be triggered by when an injection is introduced into the body, this happens within a very short time but this has not been reported at all,” he noted.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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