By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian government has received the samples of Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine, a statement from the Ministry of Health in Abuja has confirmed.
The Minister of Health, Mr Osagie Ehanire, received the sample of the vaccine from the Ambassador of Russia to Nigeria, Mr Alexey Shebarshin during a visit to the Ministry in Abuja on Friday.
The Russian Ambassador also handed an aide-memoire which gives details about the vaccine to help the Nigerian government conduct further research on it.
“We are exploring all knowledge in terms of therapeutics and vaccines,” Mr Ehanire was quoted as saying in a statement signed by the ministry’s Director of Information, Media and Public Relations, Mr Olujimi Oyetomi, on Friday.
“We are expressing our interest in the COVID-19 vaccine so that we will have the opportunity to work elaborately,” the Minister further said.
He explained that the country has been taking part in a series of knowledge exchange and contact with several research bodies and nations in a bid to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Ehanire noted that the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Nigeria asked for the right of access, immediately the Russian COVID-19 vaccine was announced.
Russia became the first country in the world to announce that its vaccine, named Sputnik V after the Soviet-era satellite that was the first launched into space in 1957, had already received approval.
This raised concerns among Western scientists over a lack of safety data, with some warning that moving too quickly on a vaccine could be dangerous. Russia has since denounced the criticisms as an attempt to undermine its research.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has since urged Russia to follow established guidelines and go “through all the stages” necessary to develop a safe vaccine.
Sputnik V was developed by the Gamaleya research institute for epidemiology and microbiology in Moscow in coordination with the Russian defence ministry.
It uses a cold-causing adenovirus, which is then modified and combined with a part of the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.
The report’s lead author, Denis Logunov of Gamaleya, said the adenovirus vaccine enters people’s cells and delivers the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein genetic code, helping the immune system recognise and attack the virus.
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