A Facebook user recently claimed that Nigerians were vaccinated with a “death vaccine” with no protection against the Delta variant of COVID-19.
Verdict: False. The claim that Nigerians were inoculated with a vaccine with no protection against the Delta variant of COVID-19 is false. Nigerians were mostly vaccinated with AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been proven to offer protection against the Delta variant.
- Why EFCC grilled me, Saraki breaks silence
- PODCAST: Mental Health: The Facts And The Myths And Misconceptions
On July 13, a Facebook user, Chidiebere Ukachukwu, claimed that Nigerians were vaccinated with a “death vaccine,” which offered no protection against the Delta variant.
Similarly, On July 15, 2021, the COVID-19 denialist also made the same claim on his Facebook wall, adding that the jab recipients would need a miracle to undo the harm to their DNA, caused by the vaccine.
He claimed: “When will the Delta variant of the COVID-19 vaccine be available? The current vaccine was formulated before the release of the Delta variant.
“More variants will be released, so those vaccinated are in for it. Note that in Epigenetics, once 1 per cent of your DNA is altered, you are no longer the same creature you were. This is true in every case. It is a rule without exception. You remember that movie, Captain Man. The vaccinated need a miracle, but the kind of miracle is unknown.”
But how true is his claim that the vaccine Nigerians received offered no protection against the Delta variant of COVID-19?
Brief on the Delta variant
The World Health Organisation (WHO) termed the Delta variant of COVID-19 as the fastest in infection rate. The organisation said the variant, which surfaced in India, was identified in December 2020 following three other variants.
WHO’s Dr Maria Van Kerkhove explained, “The Delta variant is of concern, such that the WHO is tracking and monitoring it around the world. It is a variant of concern because we know it has increased transmissibility.
“This has been demonstrated by its presence in several countries. And we know that where the variant is identified, it really rapidly takes off and spreads between people more efficiently than even the Alpha variant that was first detected around December, January 2021.”
Brief on AstraZeneca vaccine
Information from the official website of AstraZeneca shows that the COVID-19 vaccine was co-invented by the University of Oxford and its spin-out company, Vaccitech.
The manufacturer revealed that the vaccine used a replication-deficient chimpanzee viral vector based on a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that causes infections in chimpanzees and contains the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein. After vaccination, the surface spike protein is produced, priming the immune system to attack the SARS-CoV-2 virus if it later infects the body.
The manufacturer said the vaccine had been granted a conditional marketing authorisation or emergency used in more than 80 countries across six continents.
As at June, 2021, data from the manufacturer showed that more than 500 million doses of COVID-19 AstraZeneca had been supplied to 165 countries worldwide, including more than 100 countries through the COVAX Facility.
In March 2021, Nigeria received nearly two million doses of Astrazeneca vaccines and is expecting about eight million more by the end of August, according to information from the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHDA).
But does the AstraZeneca offer protection against the Delta variant of COVID-19?
Recently, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Kwara State chapter, said two jabs of the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine were about 92 per cent effective against the Delta variant of the virus.
The chairman of the Kwara NMA, Dr Baba Issa, made this known at a news conference organised ahead of the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the association in Ilorin.
“I wish to tell you that the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective. We should disregard the myths concerning the safety of the vaccine,” Dr Issa said.
A virologist in the University of Ibadan, Prof Olaleye David, recently said there was evidence to support AstraZeneca vaccine protection against the Delta variant.
“From where the virus is spreading rapidly like in the USA and other parts of the world, they have said that the Astrazeneca vaccine and other vaccines protect against the new variant,” he said.
Data from Public Health England (PHE) demonstrated that AstraZeneca offered high levels of protection against the Delta variant (B.1.617.2); formerly the ‘Indian’ variant).
Commenting on the level of protection against the Delta variant, the executive vice president, BioPharmaceuticals R&D, Mene Pangalos, said: “This real world evidence shows that COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca provides a high level of protection against the Delta variant, which is currently a critical area of concern given its rapid transmission. The data showed that the vaccine would continue to have a significant impact around the world.”
Similarly, a study funded by Public Health England and published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines offered protection against the Delta variant of COVID-19.
The study found that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine had an effectiveness of 88 per cent for the Delta variant, while two doses of AstraZeneca were found to be 67 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic infections.
“Only modest differences in vaccine effectiveness were noted with the Delta variant as compared with the Alpha variant after the receipt of two vaccine doses. Absolute differences in vaccine effectiveness were more marked after the receipt of the first dose,” the study concluded.
The claim that Nigerians were inoculated with a vaccine with no protection against the Delta variant of COVID-19 is false. Nigerians were mostly vaccinated with AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been proven to offer protection against the Delta variant.