Nigeria on Wednesday incinerated more than a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine administered a few months ago by developed countries but whose expiration date was approaching and that have expired since then, according to the authorities. “We have successfully recalled 1.06 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine that had expired,” said the director of the national agency in charge of immunization programs, Dr. Faisal Shuaib.
“When we were offered these vaccines, we knew they had a short shelf life, but we lived in an environment where vaccine supplies were very scarce,” said Faisal Shuaib. At that time, “vaccines were not available due to the prevailing nationalism in vaccines, developed countries seized these vaccines and then stored them, then when they were about to expire they offered them to us,” he accused.
So far, the most populous country in Africa has fully vaccinated about 4 million people, or less than 3% of the adult population, a far cry from the government’s goal of vaccinating 112 million people by the end of 2022.
Facing a fourth wave
Health authorities announced Monday that the country is facing a fourth wave of the new coronavirus and called for “strict” compliance with health regulations during the Christmas season. “Nigeria has seen a 500% increase in the number of confirmed cases in the last two weeks across the country due to the Delta and Omicron variants,” according to a statement from the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC).
The country has officially registered about 225,000 cases and fewer than 3,000 deaths. These figures are very low, compared to its 220 million inhabitants. But they are largely underestimated, as the number of tests performed is very low.
Much of the population is unaware of Covid-19 and often attributes its symptoms to malaria, a disease that kills between 9 and 10 people every hour in Nigeria, according to health authorities. And still, the chances of free testing for Covid-19 are almost non-existent, and the cost of a PCR test represents a month’s salary for the majority of the population, who live in poverty.
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