Nigerian authorities have warned against fake coronavirus vaccines in the country where 10 million real doses of the shots are expected to arrive in March.
“There are reports of fake vaccines in Nigeria,” Director General of Nigeria’s National Agency for Food Drug and Administration Control (NAFDAC) Mojisola Adeyeye said on Friday.
“NAFDAC is pleading with the public to beware. No COVID vaccines have been approved by NAFDAC. Fake vaccines can cause COVID-like illnesses or other serious diseases that could kill.”
Nigeria’s anticipated vaccines add to 100,000 expected doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine although it was not specified which type of jab would be used for the 10 million doses.
It was also unclear whether the batch would be financed by the African Union (AU) or as part of COVAX, which links the World Health Organization (WHO) with private partners to work for pooled procurement and equitable distribution.
Nigerian authorities recently announced they hope to vaccinate 40 percent of the population in 2021.
But the challenges of transporting and storing vaccines for many millions of people are enormous in a country where adequate hospital facilities are lacking.
In April last year, black market coronavirus tests flourished in Nigeria because citizens were reluctant to be subjected to mandatory quarantine.
The most populous nation in Africa, with about 200 million people, Nigeria has officially reported some 104,000 COVID-19 cases, with 1,382 deaths.
But these figures are believed to fall short of the real toll since the number of tests in low.
Cases have risen sharply since the end of November, notably in the economic capital Lagos, a city of about 20 million people. The death rate has also increased.
A variant strain of coronavirus has been discovered in recent months. It was found in two patient samples collected on August 3 and October 9 in Nigeria’s Osun state, according to a working research paper seen by The Associated Press news agency.