By Rotimi Ijikanmi
Nigerian Government says a media report raising doubt on the propriety of using the four million doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines donated by the U.S. is “fake, baseless and irresponsible’’
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.
The minister, a member of the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 said contrary to the speculations in the report, the Moderna vaccine was safe, approved by the World Health Organisation and being administered globally.
He said the suspicion that the country was being made a testing ground and Nigerians being guinea pigs for testing the vaccine was “baseless, unscientific and deliberate attempt to dissuade people from taking it’’.
“Nigerians are extremely futile in imagination. They will make statements that are baseless and not proved by science.
“Those who are saying this, is Nigeria the only country where Moderna vaccine is being administered? the answer is No.
“They should stop this nonsense, because this kind of fake news is capable of discouraging people from taking the vaccine,’’ he said.
Mohammed urged Nigerians not to be dissuaded by the rumours, disinformation and fake news on COVID-19 and the vaccines.
He said the vaccine was not harmful but meant to save life and Nigerians should come out to take it when the second batch is rolled out on Aug. 16.
“COVID 19 is real and the Delta variant is in Nigeria because we have been witnessing increase in cases due to the variant that we have identified in many states.
“The variant is very virulent, highly transmissible, and it kills easily and faster.
“The only two ways for Nigerians to protect themselves is by taking the vaccine and observing the non-pharmaceutical protocols.
“If you have taken your dose, don’t think you are free to go about without wearing face mask and attending rallies and parties.
“I sincerely hope that Nigerians will realise that prevention is better than cure.’’
The minister added that those travelling to and from restricted or non-restricted countries should submit themselves for necessary protocols.
He appealed to the media, religious leaders, traditional rulers and other influential personalities to join the PSC in sensitising the public to the fact that all the vaccines had been approved by WHO and safe for use.
Mohammed also called on the state governments to reactivate their structures in the enforcement of COVID-19 protocols.
The Federal Government kicked off its COVID-19 vaccination programme in April after receiving about four million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the COVAX initiative.
The latest tranche of over four million doses of the Moderna vaccine donated by the U.S. government and approved by NAFDAC would be rolled out on Aug. 16.