Connect with us

Business

Excitement as oil prices soar on Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine success

Published

on

  • Trump, Biden, Buhari, WHO laud American manufacturer
  • Nigeria may wait longer to get vaccine — PSN

The world reacted with undisguised joy on Monday to Pfizer’s announcement of its COVID-19 vaccine recording 90 per cent success and almost an instantaneous jump in global oil price and stocks.

Oil prices jumped by almost 10 per cent, its biggest daily gain, in more than six months.

Pfizer and BioNTech said Monday that a vaccine they jointly developed was 90 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 infections in ongoing phase three trials.

The message of hope drew applause from the world audience, bringing the United States President, Donald Trump, and the President-elect, Joe Biden, to their first convergence in recent months, as both congratulated Pfizer on its scientific trial.

President Muhammadu Buhari also welcomed the development and expressed the hope that the vaccine would be available for all when it finally hit the market.

America’s Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, promised to make 50 million doses of the vaccine available before the end of the year.

It also said it would produce 1.3 billion doses of the vaccine for 650 million people by the end of 2021.

The Chief Executive Officer, BioNTech, Ugur Sahin, said, “With effectiveness for the first vaccines previously expected to be in the range of 60 per cent to seven per cent, more than 90 per cent is extraordinary. It shows that COVID-19 can be controlled. At the end of the day, it’s really a victory of science.

“The data do have limits. For now, a few details on the vaccine’s efficacy are available. It is not known how well the shot works in key subgroups, such as the elderly. Those analyses haven’t been conducted. And it isn’t known whether the vaccine prevents severe disease, as none of the participants who got COVID-19 in this round of analysis had severe cases.”

While the global benchmark, Brent crude, was up $3.37, or 8.5 per cent, to $42.82 a barrel, the US West Texas Intermediate crude was up $3.54, or 9.5 per cent at $40.68.

Both contracts rose by more than $4 earlier in the session.

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, also said the OPEC+ deal on oil output cuts could be adjusted if there was consensus among members of the group.

The Saudi minister was commenting after being asked whether OPEC+ – which groups OPEC states, Russia and other producers – would stick to existing cuts of 7.7 million barrels per day (bpd) rather than easing them to 5.7 million bpd from January.

Key members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) are wary of the US.

Reacting to the vaccine discovery, Trump on his Twitter page, said, “Stock market up big. Vaccine coming soon. The report shows 90 per cent effectiveness. Such great news.”

Biden, who inaugurated a COVID-19 taskforce Monday said, “I congratulate the brilliant women and men who helped produce this breakthrough and to give us such cause for hope.”

But he cautioned it is “important to understand that the end of the battle against COVID-19 is still months away.”

The president-elect said the announcement was “part of a previously announced timeline by industry officials” and that it does not alter the fact that “Americans will have to rely on masking, distancing, contact tracing, hand washing, and other measures to keep themselves safe well into next year.”

In Nigeria, President Buhari Monday night hailed the delivery of the first COVID-19 vaccine after a period of a successful trial.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement, said the President, in his reaction to the news that the vaccine had completed 90 per cent trial, described the feat as a milestone in medical advancement.

The statement read, “President Muhammadu Buhari has welcomed the arrival of first effective coronavirus vaccine after a successful human trial phase.

“Reacting to the news that the vaccine has recorded 90 per cent effectiveness against the disease, the president described the development as a major milestone in medical advancement but warned that the world must unite in facilitating the equitable access and distribution of these vaccines to protect people in all countries.

“President Buhari reiterated his earlier call that ‘only a people’s vaccine with equality and solidarity at its core can protect all of humanity and get our societies safely running again. A bold international agreement cannot wait.”

However, renewed European lockdown measures to contain rising COVID-19 cases still appear set to weigh on the outlook for global oil demand, an International Energy Agency (IEA) official said.

Eight months into the worst pandemic in a century, the Pfizer vaccine development represents the most encouraging scientific advancement so far in the battle against COVID-19.

And its preliminary results pave the way for the companies to seek an emergency-use authorisation from regulators if further research shows the shot is also safe.

The vaccine findings are based on an interim analysis conducted after 94 participants, split between those who got a placebo and those who were vaccinated contracted COVID-19.

Pfizer Senior Vice President, Mr. William Gruber, said, “The trial will continue until 164 cases have occurred. If the data hold up and a key safety read-out also looks good, it could mean that the world has a vital new tool to control a pandemic that has killed more than 1.2 million people worldwide. This is about the best news for the world, the United States and for public health. It was better than even the best result we had hoped for.”

The vaccine is being tested in a two-dose regimen. The trial started in July and since most participants only received their second dose much more recently, nobody knows how long any protection will last.

However, the strong reading from the first large-scale trial to post efficacy results holds well for other experimental vaccines, in particular, one being developed by Moderna Inc. that uses similar technology.

Pfizer expects to get two months of safety follow-up data, a key metric required by US regulators before an emergency authorisation is granted in the third week in November.

If those findings raise no problems, Pfizer could apply for authorisation in the US this month.

A rolling review began in Europe last month and Sahin said regulators there were working with BioNTech to “further accelerate the process.”

So far, the trial’s data monitoring committee has identified no serious safety concerns, Pfizer and BioNTech said.

The positive preliminary data mean the US pharma giant and its German partner are on track to be first with a vaccine, after signing advance deals with governments worldwide for hundreds of thousands of doses.

However, Pfizer has found itself drawn into a contentious political debate about how quickly regulators in the US should allow a vaccine to be given to Americans.

President Donald Trump had pushed to have a shot approved before Election Day, but regulators put in place rigorous standards that largely pushed that goal out of reach.

On October 16, Pfizer Chief Executive Officer, Albert Bourla, had said the companies could seek an emergency use authorisation from US regulators by late November if the trial results were to show the shot is safe and effective.

Moderna is considered the next closest vaccine frontrunner. It has said it could get safety and efficacy data from its late-stage trial this month.

Johnson & Johnson, which has a one-shot vaccine using a different technology could get efficacy data from a final-stage trial by the end of this year. AstraZeneca Plc is also working on a vaccine using different technology, with results from studies in the UK and Brazil expected by year-end.

WHO, Canada hail vaccine progress

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Canadian government have hailed Pfizer and BioNTech’s announcement.

While the Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, described the news as “encouraging,” the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, said the results were “promising.”

“We welcome the encouraging vaccine news from @Pfizer & @BioNTech Group & salute all scientists & partners around the world who are developing new safe, efficacious tools to beat #COVID19,” WHO’s director-general said in a tweet.

“The world is experiencing unprecedented scientific innovation & collaboration to end the pandemic,” he said.

As of mid-October, the WHO has identified 42 “candidate vaccines” at the stage of clinical trials, up from 11 in mid-June.

President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, who described the development as a success for the world, lamented that Nigerians might have to wait a little longer to have access to the vaccine because the Federal Government failed to make early financial commitments to the companies working on the vaccines.

According to him, even when the vaccine is ready, the companies will first satisfy countries and governments that have put down resources to complement their works.

He said, “There is a possibility that with this vaccine the country will be able to access it like any other country, however, our fear is that it will take time for Nigerian to be able to get the vaccine as you are aware that the American government has put down millions of dollars for the companies.

“All the companies that are producing vaccines would want to supply to those that put their money down to help them complete their work before selling to other countries.

“What is also worst is that the procurement especially in the area of this kind of infectious diseases is through donor funding. We are going to be waiting for those who put their money down. How I wish I am in the ministry of health.

“If I were the President, I will be looking at how we can put our money down like others did, no matter how small. We cannot be waiting until those who participated in the trail are satirised and we will now be getting crumbs.

“It is a good development and it shows that we have got to the point where we can have control over the infection. The vaccine is what is going to help us to control this pandemic.  I think the virus is going to stay with us for a long time just like those other reoccurring viruses like HIV.”

Business

Fears over food scarcity as Niger farmers flee

Published

on

AS bandits continue to attack and get away with their atrocities without serious challenge from security operatives, many farmers in Niger State have fled their farms and have vowed never to return until security is beefed up around them.

To underscore their seriousness, many of them have already relocated from the farming communities to Minna, the state capital, to escape the brutality of criminals variously described as bandits, kidnappers, hoodlums, cattle rustlers and armed robbers.

Things got to the worst in recent times when the criminals not only attacked and dispossessed the farmers of their possessions, but began to set their houses ablaze as a conquered people, leaving them with nothing to manage their lives with.

The bandits have successfully taken their atrocities to no fewer than 18 of the 25 local government areas of the state and are unwilling to halt their infamy despite threats from security agencies.

They appear to be more daring after being challenged by the security organisations, thereby sending fears into residents of the remaining local government areas.

Farmers whose areas have not yet been visited by the hoodlums now live in fear of possible attack by the daring bandits.

As a result of the unrelenting onslaughts by bandits on farmers, many have since abandoned farming and harvesting of their mature crops, a development that is already forcing an increase in the prices of foodstuff. Many of the farmers interviewed by Arewa Voice said they would not risk their lives by going back to the farms except adequate security is assured.

A yam farmer, Adamu Useni Allawa, who also cultivates maize and millet, lamented that although he was eager to return to his farm, he would only do so when there is improved security in the farms.

He said, “I am eager to go back to my farm but my fear is this insecurity. It troubles my mind to go back because of insecurity. Any time it pricks my heart to go back to the farm, I often have another premonition that going back there might be a journey of no return. I am not in any way preparing now because I don’t have the confidence. I don’t do any other work than farming but I cannot risk my life for farming as it is.

“I have a bitter experience, which is still fresh in my memory. It is about my uncle and his friends who the bandits met in their farms and shot them to death instantly without any sympathy. Some of these bandits after attacking and killing our people even run away with their seedlings and we are left with virtually nothing to start fresh planting. We have relocated to Pandogari and have become refugees in a strange environment, doing nothing.”

Another farmer, Umaru Adamu Allawa, said his hope rested on government to provide more security to enable him and others go back to their various farms.

Allawa said, “If the banditry situation continues like this, there is no hope for us to go back to the farm. Our yearly turnover is massive and even if we cannot feed the state or the entire nation, we can feed our zone that comprises eight wards in Shiroro Local government effectively.”

Bala Usman, a public servant who also is also a farmer, said, “With the present insecurity in my area-comprising Lakpma, Munyan and Rafi local government areas, the farmers are no longer able to go to their farms. The implication is that it will surely affect the economy of the areas concerned, the state and the country in general. That is why we call on government at all levels to intervene immediately in order to enable farmers go back to their farms.

“Even if we are supplied the necessary farming inputs like fertilisers, seedlings, among others, it will be difficult to transport them to the affected areas because of these bandits. Also, we will find it difficult to start all over again because apart from killing our people, the bandits also steal and burn down our seedlings and we are now left with virtually nothing to take off again.”

Shuaibu Yusuf, who is from Manta, one of the ravaged areas by bandits, said from the look of things, it will be very difficult for farmers in the troubled communities to farm this year.

The Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Idris Usman Gbogan, however, assured the farmers that the Niger State government was aware of the security challenges and has taken steps to further protect lives and property of its people, especially those areas constantly raided by the bandits.

Gbogan told Arewa Voice in an interview that the state government has procured farming inputs in preparation for the coming planting season.

He said, “The step taken by the state government is to cushion the effect of transportation cost for the agro input companies as a way of reducing the cost of agricultural inputs.

By the first week of next month, the state Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, will launch the 2021 farming season and, thereafter, all these agricultural inputs will be ferried to all parts of the state under tight security.

“As at now, we have one extension worker to about 5000 farm families which is not acceptable because the ideal situation is to have one extension worker to between 800 and 1,000 farm families so in each of our stores presently across all the 25 local government areas, we are going to position extension workers so that as the farmers come to buy their inputs, we have the extension workers who will educate them and give them necessary extension knowledge on the inputs they are buying from the stores.

Gbogan said despite the insecurity and other challenges, there is still hope for bumper harvest in the state and this is why government is ensuring that they get the necessary inputs they need.

The state Chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, Niger State Chapter, Alhaji Shehu Galadima, told Arewa Voice that banditry was a bad omen for the state and its people and should be tackled with immediate effect.

He said, “Last year, it was not easy for farmers because many of them could not conclude their farming processes. Some of them who fled their ancestral homes because of the bandits cannot even go back to their homes to get their seedlings and other property in readiness for this planting season.

“Just about two days ago, in Kuchi Town in Sarkin Pawa Local Government Area of the state, the entire community was sacked and the people had to run for their lives.

“Other places having similar problems are Shiroro, Mariga, Munyan and parts of Paikoro, Rijau, Mashegu local government areas, just to mention a few. They are all overwhelmed with this type of problem.

“We are afraid that this year’s farming is being seriously threatened and it is not going to be easy for our farmers in the state because of the security issues. If the lives and properties of people are not secured, nobody will be able to do anything.”

-Vanguard

Continue Reading

Business

NLC plans strike over Kaduna workers sacking

Published

on

The Nigeria Labour Congress says it will withdraw services from both public and private organisations in Kaduna State for five days to protest mass sacking of workers by the state government.

The decision to withdraw the services of workers was taken by the Central Working Committee (CWC) of the NLC at a meeting in Abuja on Thursday.

President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said the five-day withdrawal of service by workers in the state will become total if there is no remorse from the state government.

He condemned the decision of Governor Nasir el-Rufai to sack close to 4,000 workers who are mostly from the 23 local government areas in the state.

Wabba said: “CWC has decided and has also recommended to the National Executive Council, that labour will withdraw all services from either public or private. This means all services for all sectors of the economy for five days in the first instance and where there is no remorse, it is going to be a total action.

“We thought that workers should not be allowed to die in silence because thousands of them that have been sacked have not been paid in line with the provisions of the law.

“More worrisome is the policy targeted at workers that have spent more than 30 years in service or some more than 20 years in service.

“In fact, the policy said that once you are up to 50 years in service, you will be disengaged and be sent off without any entitlement.

Wabba noted that the governor violated all the known laws that regulate labour and industrial relation in Nigeria.

He stated that some teachers disengaged by the state government were yet to receive their entitlements till date.

He added, “The entire working class in Nigeria has condemned the sack of thousands of workers in Kaduna. The CWC condemns the conversion of workers to casuals by the Kaduna State government under the pretext of paucity of funds or drop in revenue.”

Continue Reading

Business

FAAC shares N680bn to FG, states, LGs for April

Published

on

The Federation Accounts Allocation Committee on Thursday shared the sum of N680 billion among the three tiers of government.

The money was from the revenue that accrued to the federation in the month of March, which has been distributed to enable government meet its financial obligations for the month of April.

An official of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning who disclosed the amount distributed, did not provide details of what each tier of government received.

He said that top officials of the ministry and the FAAC were preparing the communique/statement.

The general declining revenue profile of the nation has generated tension between the federal and state governments, of recent. The disagreement between officials of the two tiers of government over the poor revenue led to a stalemate at last month’s FAAC meeting, as learnt.

Those who are knowledgeable about the FAAC said the disagreement was responsible for the failure of the ministry to issue any communique last month.

The debate generated by Edo State Governor Godwin Obadeki’s claim that the federal government printed N60 billion to augment March Federation Accounts Allocations, has continued to generate reactions from different quarters.

Continue Reading

Trending