OrderPaperToday – President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has directed the National Agency for Food and Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to verify claims on Covid-19 vaccines before its approval and use in Nigeria.
He issued this directive on Monday during an interactive session with the Minister of Health and heads of relevant agencies under the ministry.
The officials came to defend a proposed N150 billion proposal to procure and vaccinate 40 per cent of Nigerians in 2021 which is to be included in a supplementary budget that will be sent to the National Assembly in January 2021.
Both chambers of the national assembly passed the 2021 budget on Monday.
But during the session, Lawan observed a communication gap between the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, and the Director General of NAFDAC, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye.
Speaking on the covid-19 vaccines, Adeyeye said NAFDAC had requested for data on the vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and the Russians.
According to her, Pfizer responded with its data but the agency was yet to receive from Moderna and the Russians while Ehanire said he got information on the vaccines from Russia.
Adeyeye said: “Since October, what we made clear to them is that we will not accept any vaccine without enough data. As a regulatory agency, we are joined with other regulatory agencies across the world and we use what is called reliance.
“Meaning when FDA or Vice Canada has approved, just as Moderna and Pfizer, we can look through faster because they have done the work. Yesterday, we requested for the approval document for Moderna and Pfizer through the international coalition for medicinal authorities.
“They will give that to us because we are not going to say that the FDA has approved it, so it is okay. We will look at it between the context of our own clime but depending more on them to make it faster.
“When the Russians came we requested for data. They have not given us. They said the Gamaleya research group will visit us. If they do not give NAFDAC enough proof, we will not approve because our lives depend on it”.
The DG continued: “We challenged the Russian people, have you submitted this for emergency listing by WHO? Anything the WHO does not approve and is not coming from stringent regulatory authorities we will not approve. They said that they will provide but we have not received any scientific data from them.”
Ehanire immediately submitted saying: “I got some information from them just last Friday, this is an unfolding scenario, you cannot get all information in one day. So, if you interrogate those ones and they are not okay, you ask for more.”
Observing the lack of communication, Lawan said: “It is like NAFDAC and you (Ehanire) are not working together, I asked you a very pointed and relevant question at the beginning, on who supervises NAFDAC and you said it is you. Now NAFDAC has the information you do not have and you have information that NAFDAC doesn’t have. Issues of Covid-19 should be spontaneous.”
As a result, he tasked NAFDAC to “make sure any vaccine that does not go through the rigorous review is not approved.”
The President of the red chamber equally demanded that they provide a detailed work-plan of the measures to vaccinate 40 percent of Nigerians in 2021 as the first phase of vaccination. He stated that the senate will be part of the entire process.
Lastly, he told them not procure cheaper covid-19 vaccines but the ones that will serve the health interest of Nigerians.