The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has urged the Federal Government to assess critical issues such as the country’s electricity situation and the challenge of storage facilities before deciding on the type of COVID-19 vaccine it wants to procure for its citizens.
The Federal Government had announced that is expecting 100,000 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine between January and February 2021.
However, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine requires to be stored at an extremely cold temperature of -70 °C in order to guarantee its efficacy after inoculation.
But speaking in an interview on Thursday, Sam Ohuabunwa, President of the PSN, said it is safer for the country to buy vaccines that will require minimum refrigeration due to power supply issues and will be suitable for its existing storage facilities.
Noting that the electricity challenge in the country is a serious concern, the PSN President recommended that the Federal Government purchases the UK’s Oxford/Astra-Zeneca and/or Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines.
“We should consider the ability to manage the logistics, to store them safely and move them from port to hospital, clinics, and pharmacists where they will be administered to the patients and Nigerians,” Ohuabunwa told the Punch.
“What matters most is the ability to manage the logistics, especially the ability to maintain a cold chain. With this, the Pfizer vaccine may not perfectly fit into our circumstances here. If we have a choice, we should go for the Oxford/Astra-Zeneca vaccine. It is easy to maintain with the facilities we have in holding other vaccines.
“Pfizer or Modena require below zero centigrade to store. And in our country with our power situation, and the infrastructure we have, it will be a big work. It is not as if they are not durable but it is going to be tough.
“If we have a chance we should go for the Oxford/Astra-Zeneca or the one by the Russians. They can be stored at our normal temperatures, in our fridges. If we do not have a choice, we should take what we have and do our best to ensure that we keep the vaccines and biologicals alive, because heat will denature it if it is not kept at the required temperature. It will be useless.”