KANO, Nigeria — By the time Pfizer arrived, the meningitis epidemic had struck hundreds of children, leaving many dead or partially paralyzed.
The American pharmaceutical giant pledged to fight the 1996 outbreak in West Africa while testing a new drug, enrolling 200 stricken young patients in a clinical trial. Eleven died of the brain infection — an outcome Pfizer said was in line with results from standard treatment — and families in Kano, along with the state government, later received millions of dollars in a lawsuit settlement.
Now the memory looms over the coronavirus vaccine rollout in Nigeria’s second-largest city, sowing doubts around foreign-made shots that officials are rushing to distribute.
“I don’t trust anything from the West,” said Abubakar Sadiq Sulaiman, a 20-year-old college student in Kano, “because of what happened here.”