The Ministry of Health has alerted all tertiary health institutions in Nigeria to the circulation of fake COVID-19 vaccine in Africa and the need to be vigilant.
The ministry also dispelled the possibility of COVID-19 vaccines being available for sale or being administered by any unauthorised institution in the country.
This was contained in a circular issued by the ministry’s Director, Department of Hospital Services, Dr. Adebimpe Adebiyi, on behalf of the minister, Osagie Ehanire.
The circular dated March 26, 2021, a copy of which our correspondent sighted on Saturday, was addressed to Chief Medical Directors/Medical Directors of federal tertiary health institutions.
Titled, “Report of fake COVID-19 vaccine destined for Africa arrested in China,” the circular has C.1693/P&P/T/22 as its reference number.
The ministry noted that to forestall the importation of fake vaccines into the country, the Nigeria Customs Service had designated the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, as the only point of entry for imported COVID-19 vaccines.
The circular read, “The Ministry is in receipt of a letter from the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 regarding the seizure of about 3,000 doses of fake COVID-19 vaccines which were Africa-bound from China.
“The report further indicates that the fake COVID-19 vaccines are already in circulation in Africa. To prevent the importation of fake vaccines, kindly note that the Nigeria Customs Service has designated Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport as the only Point of Entry for imported COVID-19 vaccines.
“I am therefore to bring this to your notice and dispel any possibility of COVID-19 vaccines being available for sale or being administered by any unauthorised institution.”
As such, the Nigerian Medical Association has advised Nigerians to be vigilant, warning that only government agencies could give genuine vaccines.
The Secretary-General , NMA, Dr. Philips Ekpe, said, “The truth is that wherever there are good people, there would also be bad people who have no conscience and take advantage of desperate situations.
“It is a very dangerous situation because people will go with the false impression thinking they are protected….only to be infected with its attendant outcome.
“Moreover, the constituent of the fake vaccine is not known, and it could be poisonous to the human body.
“Justice should be served as their action is tantamount to attempted murder. Kudos to the intelligence that led to the apprehension of these culprits.
“Nigerians should be vigilant. The vaccine, as of this moment, is free and is only given by government agencies. Avoid payments of any form..this fake vaccine is a disaster in the making.”
The International Criminal Police Organisation and the United States’ Homeland Security Investigations had warned the public against purchasing COVID-19 vaccines and treatments online.
With criminal groups producing, distributing and selling fake vaccines, they said the risks to the public could include buying a product which only does not protect against COVID-19, but poses a serious health hazard if ingested or injected.
Such products are not tested, regulated or safety-checked, the warning published on INTERPOL’s website said.