The Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy (NAPharm), in collaboration with the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), has berated healthcare practitioners propagating unsubstantiated information about COVID-19 vaccines, describing them as confusionists.
The professionals maintained that it is high time myths and misconceptions about the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccines provided for it were fought with the right information, adding that the coalition has assembled experts and authorities to focus on the facts, myths and way forward for the pandemic.
They also raised concerns about the shoddy attention given to healthcare provision by the government, saying this is largely responsible for the absence of local vaccines in the country even amidst a dreaded pandemic.
Fielding questions from journalists at a press conference heralding a week-long media programme on COVID-19, Vice-President, NAPharm, Pharm. (Sir) Ifeanyi Atueyi, dispelled conspiracy theories on COVID-19 vaccines being circulated by some so-called scientists, stating that they are false information spread by deceivers.
He said: “Vaccines don’t kill people, they save lives. Since vaccines are produced based on science, any scientist that has any new finding about the COVID-19 vaccine needs to publish it in a scientific journal, not addressing people directly on social media on the discovery. Thus, those scientists speculating wrong information about vaccination are dishonest.
“The purpose of vaccine is to help us build immunity and whatever provides you immunity will help you fight the virus. People telling you contrary stories about the vaccine are deceiving you. If they are telling you that vaccines will not provide immunity, they are deceiving you.
“So, please, let us listen to the experts. Let us not be deceived by people . As I have said earlier, they can still go quietly to take the jab without anyone knowing. So, don’t listen to them because they don’t love you.”
In his own contribution, the President, NGE, Mr Isah Mustapha, condemned some religious leaders for promoting COVID-19 conspiracy theories among their members, stressing that they lack the authority to speak on the issue.
While commending pressmen for their reportage on the pandemic so far, he urged them to always seek and report expert views only, in order to feed the masses with authentic information capable of curbing the spread of the virus.
“It is so bad that key clerics are coming out to say that the vaccines are meant to do something else, which is part of conspiracy theories. I begin to wonder: “Are they experts in that field? As media, we are supposed to report expert opinions, not the opinions of laymen like me. So, we feel that this partnership gives us an opportunity to talk to experts on this matter,” he quipped.
Speaking in the same vein, Dr Lolu Ojo, director of programmes, NAPharm, said although so many things are yet to be known about the coronavirus vaccines, they are the only panacea available for now, and thus must be appreciated.
“We are not saying that the COVID vaccine is absolutely free of the demerits linked to it. People are free to take it, although it is not mandatory”, he stated.
Commenting on the anticipated NAPharm/NGE Media Week programme, Ojo said it will run virtually from Monday, 12 April to Saturday, 17 April 2021, 10 am to 12 noon daily, with journalists and various experts in attendance.
He assured would-be participants of getting accurate information on everything that concerns COVID-19 from the Media Week, urging them to make themselves available for the discourse which will take place virtually.
“As we set out to fight the pandemic with the right information, I want to call on Nigerians to participate in all the activities lined up for the week. We have the capacity to accommodate a minimum of 1000 participants on each day and any spillover can join via YouTube, Instagram or Facebook. This is an opportunity to ask questions from the people who should know. It is a unique opportunity to clear all the doubts”, he stressed.
Top among dignitaries expected to grace the Media Week are Dr Osagie Ehanire, the honorable minister of health; Keynote Speaker, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, director general, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC); Prof. Tonnie Iredia, the former CEO of the National Orientation Agency; Dr Reuben Abati; Dr Faisal Shuaibu, CEO, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency; Prof Isah Marte Hussaini, honorable commissioner for health, Borno State; Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria; Mr Tony Akiotu, group managing director of DAAR Communications, among others.