Connect with us

COVID-19

Relief for UK as govt okays Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Published

on

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in the UK, with the first doses due to be given on Monday amid rising coronavirus cases.

According to BBC, the UK has ordered 100 million doses – enough to vaccinate 50 million people.

This would cover the entire population, when combined with the full order of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, Health Secretary. Matthew Hancock, said.

The new vaccine approval comes after Public Health England said the country was facing “unprecedented” levels of infections, and health officials in parts of Wales, Scotland and the south of England voiced concerns about the increasing pressure on the NHS.

Millions more people in England are expected to be placed under the toughest tier four restrictions.

On Tuesday, 53,135 new COVID cases were recorded in the UK – the highest single day rise since mass testing began – as well as 414 more deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the vaccine development “a triumph” for British science, adding, “We will now move to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.”

And England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty praised the “considerable collective effort that has brought us to this point”.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Hancock said it marked a “significant moment” in the fight against the virus, adding that “2021 can be a year of hope and recovery because we can see our way out of the pandemic”.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was designed in the first months of 2020, tested on the first volunteer in April, and has since been through large-scale clinical trials involving thousands of people.

It is the second jab to be approved in the UK after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was given the go-ahead in December.

Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, which needs ultra cold storage at -70C, the Oxford-AstraZeneca can be stored in a standard fridge so will be easier to deliver to care homes and GP surgeries.

AstraZeneca’s chief executive Pascal Soriot told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the company will “progressively ramp up” the vaccination programme, and will be able to deliver up to two million doses a week.

More than 600,000 people in the UK have been vaccinated since Margaret Keenan became the first in the world to be given it outside of a clinical trial.

The approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine marks a major turning point in the pandemic.

It will lead to a massive expansion in the UK immunisation campaign aimed at getting life back to normal.

The shift to giving as many people as possible the first doses of either approved vaccine effectively doubles the number of people given some protection.

The second dose, which gives maximum protection, will come up to three months later.

However, the next couple of months still look bleak.

Health officials have spoken of “unprecedented” levels of infection and some hospitals are struggling with the number of patients.

Prof Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the vaccine approval was an “astonishing achievement” in science and clinical research.

But he said there was still “more work to do”, warning: “It’s not over yet.”

“Our colleagues in hospital are facing some real horrors caused by this virus. The next steps are critical,” he said.

Meanwhile, the health secretary has said that more areas will be placed under England’s toughest tier four – “stay at home” – restrictions.

Hancock will set out further details of the changes in the House of Commons later.

He has urged people to “stay in this new year” regardless of what tier their local area is under – in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson would also be making a statement later about the return of schools in England in January, Hancock said.

 

 

 

COVID-19

NGF: States to reintroduce COVID protocol, fast-track vaccine procurement to prevent third wave

Published

on

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) says states will reintroduce measures for curbing the spread of the coronavirus to prevent a third wave of infections.

 

This was part of the resolutions reached by the governors after a meeting on Wednesday.

 

The decision was taken following a presentation by Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos, on the concerns about a third wave of infections in the state.

 

On July 11, Sanwo-Olu had warned Lagos residents of a possible outbreak, following a recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the state, which he said may lead to a third wave of infections.

 

In a statement issued after the meeting on Wednesday, Kayode Fayemi, chairman of the forum, said the governors also agreed to liaise with the federal government on ways to speed up the procurement of additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

 

“The Forum received an update from the Governor of Lagos State, H.E Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on the recent rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases and call for consensual action to prevent a third wave in the country,” Fayemi said.

 

“Following the update, the Forum called on all State Governors to revive their COVID protocols and collaborate with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to take appropriate and immediate actions to flatten the transmission curve.

 

“The Forum will interface with the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 to accelerate processes required to fast track the delivery of additional vaccines for the country.”

 

During the first wave of infections, guidelines such as restriction of movement, compulsory use of face masks, and strict adherence to physical distancing were in force, but with the drop in infection numbers, such measures have been relaxed across the country.

 

However, with concerns raised over a possible increase in infections, following the confirmation of the “highly infectious” Delta variant in Abuja and Oyo, it isn’t yet clear what exact measures the governors will reintroduce.

Continue Reading

COVID-19

Delta COVID variant, linked to high infection rate, detected in Nigeria

Published

on

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed the index case of the delta variant of the coronavirus in Nigeria.

The NCDC disclosed this in a statement on Thursday.

According to the NCDC, the variant was detected during routine tests for in-bound travellers in Abuja.

“The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has detected a confirmed case with the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, also known as lineage B.1.617.2. The variant was detected in a traveler to Nigeria, following the routine travel test required of all international travelers and genomic sequencing at the NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Abuja,” the statement reads.

“The Delta variant is recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a variant of concern, given its increased transmissibility. The variant has been detected in over 90 countries and is expected to spread to more countries.

“The variant has also been linked to a surge in cases in countries where it is the dominant strain in circulation. There are ongoing studies to understand the impact of the variant on existing vaccines and therapeutics.”

The development comes days after the World Health Organisation (WHO) expressed concern over the “speedy” spread in infection rates in Africa as countries battle a third wave of COVID-19.

In a statement issued on July 1, the WHO had raised concern over variants of concern, especially the delta variant, adding that infection rates are doubling every week, and the virus is spreading faster than previous records.

However, according to the NCDC, the federal government is stepping up efforts through collaboration with the “Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), African Centre for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), and other laboratories within the national network, to carry out genomic sequencing”, in order “to enable the detection of variants of concern, and initiate response activities”.

“Given the high transmissibility of the Delta variant and following its detection in Nigeria, NCDC urges all Nigerians to ensure strict adherence to public health and social measures in place. Proven public health and social measures such as physical distancing, frequent handwashing, and proper use of face masks, prevent infections and save lives. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective and offers protection against the disease,” the agency said.

“Additionally, states are urged to ensure sample collection and testing for COVID-19 is accessible to the public. Public settings such as schools with accommodation facilities, workplaces and camps should utilise the approved Antigen-based Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) for rapid testing of their population.

“The recommended control measures to limit the spread of the Delta variant continue to be testing, following the existing public health guidance and abiding by the current travel and public restrictions.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading

COVID-19

FG declares 132 violators of COVID-19 travel advisory wanted

Published

on

The Federal Government through the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 has declared another 132 travellers wanted for violating a recently issued travel advisory.

The PSC, on May 1, 2021, issued a travel advisory, instructing travellers arriving from India, Brazil and Turkey, or who had visited the countries within 14 days of their trip to Nigeria, to observe certain protocols, including compulsory quarantine and testing in designated facilities on arrival.

However, the committee observed that many travellers had been violating the advisory, leading to earlier announcement of 90 violators as wanted persons on May 9.

A statement on Thursday by the Chairman of the PSC and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, the Committee announced the 132 additional violators of the advisory, who entered through Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, advising members of the public to be on the lookout, describing the persons as immediate health hazard.

It stated, “The Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 on 1st May, 2021 issued a Travel Advisory for Passengers arriving in Nigeria from Brazil, India and Turkey.

“These precautionary measures are a necessary step to mitigate the risk of importation of variants of concern and break the chain of transmission to the population.

“Under the new measures, passengers arriving from/or that have visited any of these three countries within fourteen (14) days prior to the visit to Nigeria, are required to follow mandatory arrival quarantine and testing protocols in designated facilities.

“The Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) has however observed that while most of the arriving passengers dutifully observed the guidelines, some (Nigerians and Foreigners) have violated them in contravention of the provisions of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Health Regulations Protection, 2021.

“Accordingly, the underlisted persons who arrived in Nigeria through the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and whose names and passport numbers are displayed, have been declared Persons of Interest (POI) on account of posing considerable danger to overall public health and for the violation of Nigeria COVID-19 travel protocol by evading the mandatory seven-day quarantine for persons arriving from restricted countries.

“Members of the public are by this notice advised that these persons of interest constitute an immediate health hazard to the society.

“They must therefore transport themselves safely, to the nearest state public health departments within 48 hours of this notice for immediate evaluation and call the Port Health Services, Federal Ministry of Health.”

Continue Reading

Trending