COVID-19: Experts harp on Chinese vaccines, local production

Media and health experts in Nigeria have tasked the federal government and health practitioners on the availability and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, with a call on stakeholders to embrace the Chinese products as well as promoting local production.

The call was made through a communiqué issued at the end of a workshop organised by Diplomats Extra magazine, Wednesday, endorsed by the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) with the theme: COVID-19 Vaccines – Ensuring Fair and Equitable Distribution” held at Reiz Continental Hotel, Central Business District, Abuja.

The media engagement also deliberated on a number of issues, including the need to ensure fair and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, tapping into Belt and Road Initiative, and the need for the World Health Organisation (WHO) to approve and make the vaccines available for all.

The key consensus of the meeting is that the pandemic provided an equal opportunity amidst the affliction that has affected all humanity and therefore the need for greater collaboration and cooperation to beat down the virus.

According to the communiqué signed by Raphael Oni, convener of the workshop and publisher of the magazine, “a major response to the COVID-19 pandemic is the development of vaccines; however, the skewed distribution has been a cause for concern for developing countries including Nigeria.”

He said WHO has enrolled the vaccines of AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Janssen, Mordena, etc, into the Emergency Use Listing (EUL), which are widely administered in the world, with AstraZenaca in about 160 countries, Pfizer in about 90 countries and Moderna in about 50 countries.

In this regard, “participants noticed the contribution of China on COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution. To date, four Chinese vaccines have been approved for use in over 100 countries, including nearly 40 African countries, and two vaccines which are the Sinopharm and the Sinovac have also been included in the EUL and the COVAX procurement list.”

The communiqué maintained that “the safety and effectiveness of Chinese vaccines have gained authoritative recognition internationally and should therefore be embraced.

“The competent health authorities in Nigeria are called upon and encouraged to approach the Chinese side on vaccines, so as to bring more choices of safe vaccines for Nigerian people. While the need for local production of the vaccines in partnership with the Chinese government should be stressed.

“The Chinese model should be adopted to curtail the rising spread of the pandemic.

“The federal government should partner with the media to intensify public advocacy and sensitisation on COVID-19,” the communiqué stressed.