After months of speculations and trials, health establishment in several countries have eventually manufactured medications for the treatment of Covid-19. These medications have successfully been trialed among different classes of people, and have been proven to be effective in the prevention of the virus which at present has no cure.
Like most other African countries, Nigeria is yet to be severely hit by the pandemic as compared to the infection rates in Europe and America. With an average daily death rate of about 2,555 casualties, the United States remains one of the badly hit country. But contrastingly, the economic effect of the virus is more biting and disturbing on the Nigerian population than on its counterpart in the US. Short-term economic projections for the country are also not outrightly positive. Currently plunged into inflation, experts forecasts a return to growth in 2021 and in subsequent years, but sees a rise in inflation, especially as cuts in oil prices (the country's mainstay) and FX downswings have robbed the people of household purchasing power. Increasing unemployment and cessation of economic activities mostly thanks to the coronavirus pandemic adds up to the pale outlook of the Nigeria economy.
Fortunately, there's glad tidings and it comes in the face of the successful manufacture of the Covid-19 vaccines. Although these medications could only help to prevent the virus, it could go a long way to restrain the greater population from contracting the virus. Industrial workers and traders would go about their works unperturbed by covid-19 restrictions, local markets would be open to investors, and other societal Institutions would begin to function at maximum, all thanks to a probable wholesome vaccination exercise.
How then could an ordinary citizen of a third world country like Nigeria access the vaccines? What are the vaccines and how do they function? These are questions which would be answered as you read along.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
The only vaccine which as at the time of writing has received accreditation for mass vaccination is the one made by Pfizer in partnership with german pharmaceutical company, BioNtech. Aside the fact that this particular vaccine is 95% effective, there have been no adverse effects of concern when the vaccine was trialed on about 43,000 persons.
The Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine is an RNA-configured one, and is the only vaccine of the type to be approved for human medication (although people were vaccinated of such vaccine in clinical trials, but not authorized before). The authorized vaccine when inserted into the human system tends to replicate some portion of the virus which then triggers the body's immune fight-back.
Pretty much like most vaccines, the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine needs to be stored under a temperature of -70C and could stay under such condition for up to six months. Under temperature of 2C and 8C, it could survive just about five days. The Pfizer/BioTech vaccine is a two dose medication, admitted three weeks apart.
Another RNA based vaccine, it is reported to be 94.5% efficient for the prevention of Covid-19. Produced by Moderna, a US pharmaceutical firm, the vaccine is said to be much more effective on asymptomatic patients a week following a first dose.
Data shows that out of about 13,900 people vaccinated, only 11 returned sick of the virus although they were not in any severe condition. A similar trial using the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine returned only 8 out of 18,100 persons positive of coronavirus after exposure to it. Both studies returned no casualties.
A subtle observation suggests that the vaccine from Moderna caused more obvious reactions like fevers, aches, and chills than the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. And while the vaccine was recommended for patients above 18 years of age, those of Pfizer/BioNTech has been recommended for a much younger population starting from age 16. This then indicates that children are at present left out of any covid-19 vaccination, but calls have been made for more younger population to be trialed for the vaccine to provide a wider understanding of it as well as to be inclusive of these young population.
Aside the above-listed two vaccines, the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine is one which is most likely to be authorized for mass vaccination among several others under study. The vaccine is touted to be 90% effective with about 20,000 volunteers already on trial with it.
In total, there are about 57 vaccine candidates under clinical research. About 40 of these are in Phase I–II trials and 17 in Phase II–III trials. Only Pfizer Inc and BioNTech, Moderna, the Gamaleya Institute, and the University of Oxford (in collaboration with AstraZeneca) vaccines have recorded positive results from their Phase III vaccine trials so far.
How long is one immune from coronavirus after taking the vaccines
The Pfizer/BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines has been verified to profer protection to vaccinated individuals for a duration of two months. The durability period of two months isn't fixed, as the period by which the volunteers were followed up didn't exceed such.
As at the time of writing, the duration of the vaccines has yet to be pegged to a timeline — it might be three months, a year or more than that. What is certain however is that once vaccinated, you stand a great chance of being immune from coronavirus.
Accessing these vaccines in Nigeria
Getting hand on the vaccines approved for covid-19 prevention is not easy in anyway, considering the fact that it is in high demands all the world over. A report cited that 80% of these ‘effective’ vaccines have been pre-ordered by wealthy countries, leaving the developing nations to the mercy of luck and delay.
Nevertheless, the Nigerian government in liason with other African nations have engaged the various humanitarian bodies and made known of their intent in securing these vaccines, citing how vulnerable their countries are to a major outbreak.
Nigeria’s candidate for the Office of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had recently voiced her commitment in making the vaccines accessible in the country and in other African entities. According to her, there have been negotiations to bring the Pfizer and vaccines into these nations, although she hinted that only about 20% of the population would be able to get vaccinated by the end of 2021. Okonjo-Iweala is the African Union's Special Envoy on mobilising international economic support for the continental fight against COVID-19.
In a related development, the Nigerian government through it's health minister, Osagie Ehanire confirmed that it will be receiving some 20 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in early 2021. He however disclosed that due to the country's lack of ultra low temperature freezers, only the vaccines which is suitable for the country would be brought in.
How the vaccines would be distributed among the population is yet unknown, but widespread indications suggests that frontline health workers and prominent personalities would be the ones to foremostly get vaccinated in Nigeria. It is also yet unsure whether one could individually purchase the product, although such is unlikely.
Conspiracy theories might mar mass vaccination
In Nigeria, the coronavirus outbreak has presented a perfect opportunity for theories and personal opinions which were under guise for a long time to get the attention of the day. One of such is the attribution of Billionaire, Bill gates's interest in the mass vaccination against coronavirus as a guise to implant 5G-powered microchips on human's system or as a coy to rollout harmful medication as vaccines. These theorists believe the billionaire's supposed aim of having the world population under his dictate would then be possible with a mass vaccination.
Although influential individuals and organisations including the Bill and gates foundation have risen to clarify how false the opinions were, many of the Nigerian population are still skeptical about a mass vaccination against coronavirus.
Breaking information as it concerns the coronavirus vaccine in the country would be relayed to the public on this thread.