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Nigeria backtracks, denies receiving Russian COVID-19 vaccine

The Federal Ministry of Health on Saturday said that the famed Russian-made Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine claimed to have been be given to the Nigerian Government is still in the custody of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Nigeria.

The Director, Information, Media and Public Relations of the Federal Ministry of Health, Olujimi Oyetomi, said in a statement that far from the vaccine, what was handed over to the Federal health officials was an aide memoir to enable the Nigerian team study and get ready for further researches, patronage and application.

According to the statement by Oyetomi, “following an earlier Press Release made on Friday, September 4, 2020 on the courtesy visit by the Russian Federation’s Ambassador to Nigeria, H.E. Alexey L. Shebarshin to the Nigeria’s Health Ministers to hand over an aide memoire on the recently announced Russian-made COVID-19 vaccine, the Ministry’s Media and Public Relations Unit wishes to correct the impression that the Russian-made COVID-19 Vaccine has been handed over to the Health authorities in Nigeria.

“The Russian-made COVID-19 vaccine is still in the custody of the Russian Federation’s Embassy in Nigeria.”

Russia’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Alexey Shebarshin, had on Friday met with Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, as he visited the Federal Ministry of Health headquarters in Abuja.

Following the visit, there was a widespread news about Nigeria receiving a COVID-19 vaccine from Russia.

A tweet from the official handle of the Federal Ministry of Health on Friday had quoted Dr Osagie as saying during the visit that “we (Nigeria) are expressing our interest in the #COVID19 vaccine so that we will have the opportunity to work elaborately.”

The Minister had noted that the vaccine would be quickly referred to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) as well as the Nigeria Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development, amongst other agencies, for review and possible validation.

The tweet added: “We are exploring all knowledge in terms of therapeutics and vaccines. We are expressing our interest in the COVID19 vaccine so that we will have the opportunity to work elaborately.”

Last month, Russia registered the first COVID-19 vaccine becoming the first nation in the world to lay claim to such a feat.

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