The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has alerted the Nigerian government to the possibility of the Canadian government approaching it to accept the Medicgo COVID 19 vaccine (Covifenz) which the World Health Organisation (WHO) has not approved.
In a statement issued in Lagos, CAPPA said that as a signatory to the WHO’s first public health treaty – the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) Nigeria should remain committed to its obligations including Article 5.3 which advised Parties to insulate their public health policy from the vested and commercial interests of the tobacco industry.
CAPPA Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi said: “In as much as we appreciate the Canadian government for supplying COVID-19 Vaccines to Nigeria, we urge our government to be circumspect and ensure the product is not the Philip Morris funded Covifend. An industry that kills its customers and the rest of us who are exposed to tobacco via secondhand smoke cannot lead the way in solving either the tobacco menace or the coronavirus pandemic. “
Oluwafemi explained that Philip Morris is primarily a manufacturer of lethal products and continues to actively oppose smoking reduction measures across the globe including in Nigeria where its executives through well-publicized articles promote heated tobacco products as a less harmful alternative to cigarettes despite overwhelming evidence on the contrary.
“With at least nine other WHO-approved vaccines that are not tainted by tobacco companies’ funding in COVAX kitty, Nigeria is not obliged to accept vaccines tainted with industry funding. In fact, Nigeria can contact COVAX directly to obtain the approved products.”
Echoing the position of public health groups in Canada, Oluwafemi said rather than pose as a front for Philip Morris that the Canadian government should stand for public health by replacing Philip Morris’s shareholding in Medicago and stop partnerships that violate its FCTC Obligations.
“The control of one pandemic should not compromise another. COVID 19 vaccine or any other health product from companies with ties to the tobacco industry is not welcome in Nigeria. The acceptance of the Philip Morris vaccine and its use violates the FCTC Article 5.3.”, he insisted.