Nigerian regulators approved a coronavirus vaccine that was developed by AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford for emergency use in the West African nation.
“The Serum Institute of India Ltd. on Feb. 10 submitted a dossier on the Covishield vaccine, which it is producing under license from AstraZeneca, and it was found to be safe and well-tolerated in adults above 18 years of age, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control said in a statement on Thursday.
The shot was also found to be effective against a Covid-19 variant that was first identified in the U.K. and has been detected in Nigeria, Lagos-based Channels television cited Mojisola Adeyeye, the agency’s director-general, as saying. Three other vaccines and more than 30 herbal medicines are undergoing evaluation, she said.
South Africa paused its plans to dispense the AstraZeneca shot this month after a small study showed it had little impact on mild infections caused by another strain of the virus first identified in that country last year.
The Nigerian government, which has pledged to inoculate 40% of its population of more than 200 million against the virus this year and 70% by the end of 2022, has only secured 16 million doses of AstraZeneca’s shot under the Covax facility so far. It expects the first vaccines to arrive this month, and health workers, top government officials and vulnerable people will be first in line to get them.
Tracing technology will be used to monitor vaccine distribution to prevent diversion and the infiltration of fake shots into the supply chain, according to the regulator.
Executives of Nigeria’s biggest companies have formed a coalition to tackle Covid-19, and aim to raise at least $100 million to buy 42 million vaccines allocated to Nigeria by the African Union’s vaccine procurement program. Nigeria’s second-largest cement maker, BUA Group, said it has paid for 1 million vaccines and is committed to buying 5 million additional doses.