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COVID-19

WHO rejects Nigeria’s bid for Pfizer vaccine

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has disqualified Nigeria from the first round of countries to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said Nigeria was disqualified based on its inability to store the vaccine at -70 degrees Celsius.

The disqualification has dealt a heavy blow to Nigeria’s plan to vaccine its citizens against COVID-19, which has already killed 1,640 out of the 138,000 infected.

Nigeria had submitted a proposal to be supplied the vaccine being donated by COVAX, the global alliance against COVID-19.

But the major concern has been its lack of storage capacity, although the country had reportedly acquired three ultra-cold freezers in anticipation of the vaccine’s arrival.

The country failed to make any provision in the 2021 budget to fund the acquisition of COVID-19 vaccines.

Moeti said in a statement that only four African countries were captured in the first supply of 320,000 vaccines out of the 13 that expressed interest.

“In addition, around 320,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been allocated to four African countries: Cabo Verde, Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia.  Deliveries are also expected later on in February,” she said.

She also said, “To access an initial limited volume of Pfizer vaccine, countries were invited to submit proposals. Thirteen African countries expressed an interest in participating in the initiative, and their proposals were evaluated based on current mortality rates, new cases and trends and capacities to deliver this vaccine, including to store it at minus 70 degrees Celsius.

“I have to say that this was a challenging process as we know all countries want to start vaccinating their populations. The supplies were limited but we are glad that we will have a number of countries start and we look forward to working with the other countries to expand this vaccine delivery.”

Faisal Shuaib, executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), said the country was anticipating the arrival of the Pfizer vaccine “in the coming weeks” not knowing what lies ahead.

In much-awaited news, the COVAX facility (which is the vaccine component of the ACT Accelerator) has informed African countries of the first allocations of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Nearly 90 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine could start arriving on the continent later this month.

This is subject to WHO listing the vaccine for emergency use. The review is ongoing, and its outcome is expected very soon.

These doses would help countries reach three per cent of their populations in the first half of 2021, targeting the most-at-risk groups, especially frontline health workers.

As production capacities increase, the COVAX facility is aiming to reach at least 20 per cent of Africans, which will require delivery of up to 600 million doses during this year.

COVID-19

FG okays another COVID vaccine, Sinopharm, for Nigeria

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Another COVID-19 vaccine, Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV, has been approved for use in Nigeria, Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, has said.

He stated this on Tuesday at a media briefing in Abuja.

The approval is coming some weeks after NAFDAC approved the Moderna and Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use in Nigeria.

The Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine is an inactivated COVID-19 vaccine and had been approved by the World Health Organisation for emergency use.

Shuaib said on Tuesday that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control had approved the vaccine three days ago.

“NAFDAC has approved Sinopharm vaccine. The approval was done three days ago. And yes, Sinopharm vaccine has also received WHO certification,” he said.

He also said, “It is a potential vaccine that we could use. There are so many vaccines out there, but one thing that we are very clear about is that we are not going to use all the available vaccines in Nigeria.

“At some point, we are going to draw a line in terms of the number of vaccines we would use, so that we can keep a close watch on the number of vaccines we are utilising in Nigeria.”

He said the vaccine was developed by Sinopharm’s Beijing Institute of Biological Products, “sometimes written as Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products”, noting that there are sometimes two different acronyms, BBIBP and BIBP, for the same vaccine.

“It completed phase three trials in Argentina, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru and United Arab Emirates (UAE), with over 60,000 participants. BBIBP-CorV shares, similar technology with CoronaVac and Covaxin, other inactivated virus vaccines for COVID-19,” he said.

“Its product name is SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine ‘Vero Cell’, not to be confused with the similar product name of CoronaVac,” Shuaib said.

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COVID-19

Lagos records 35 deaths amid COVID third wave

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A total of 135 deaths have been recored in Lago State amid rising third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state government has said.

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, disclosed this on Monday during a media briefing on the COVID situation in the state.

On July 11, Sanwo-Olu had warned Lagos residents of a third wave of infections, following an increase in the number of cases recorded in the state.

The Federal Government on August 2 declared that Nigeria was experiencing a third wave of infections.

Sanwo-Olu said on Monday that since the start of the pandemic, 5,551 positive cases had been admitted at COVID isolation centres in Lagos.

“We are now clearly in the middle of third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and Lagos has remained the epicentre of the disease in Nigeria,” he said.

The governor also said, “Test positivity rate currently stands at 12.1 percent, compared to 1.1 percent at the end of June, and seven percent at end of July. As at August 21, 4,387 positive cases are currently being managed actively in community.

“Over the course of managing the COVID-19 pandemic, about 5,551 patients have been admitted into our various COVID-19 care centres in Lagos, with 506 registered fatalities. Of these deaths, 135 have sadly, happened in this current third wave.

“I commiserate with all residents who have lost loved ones to the pandemic. We share in your pain and grief. As a society and as a government, it is for us to redouble our efforts to defeat this devastating pandemic.”

He said the state had seen a surge in severe cases, adding that the number of oxygen cylinders used rose from 75 per day to 400 within the third wave.

He also said, “In terms of treatment of severe cases, we have seen a gradual increase in the uptake of oxygen during the current wave. Utilisation has increased from 75 cylinders per day at the beginning of this third wave, to over 400 cylinders per day currently,” he said.

“With our modelling suggesting that we may be requiring even more oxygen supply over the next few weeks, we are exploring several ways of increasing our oxygen capacity.

“One of the major pillars of our mitigation strategy for the third wave is vaccination. We are seeing that countries that have vaccinated a large percentage of their population are recording drastic reductions in the numbers of COVID-19 related deaths.

“This is one of the reasons why we have not spared any cost to ensure that the vaccines that have been provided by the federal government are made available to every resident that meets the requirements for the vaccination programme.”

According to the state ministry of health, Lagos has so far confirmed a total of over 70,000 positive cases, with more than 60,000 recoveries.

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After COVID scare, UNILAG reopens campus for exams

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The University of Lagos (UNILAG) has asked its students to resume physically for second semester examinations, which will be held between August 26 and September 26, 2021.
The students were sent home six weeks ago to prevent spread of COVID-19 after a scare on the campus.
The students have been receiving online classes using the institution’s Learning Management System (LMS) since the July 12 closure.
But the institution said it had made a staggered arrangement for students with registered bed spaces to resume in the hostels from August 9, 2021.
Part of the statement read, ”The university has also approved the commencement of the second semester examinations to hold physically from Thursday, 26th August, 2021.
“The examinations will start with the General Studies (GST) Examinations scheduled to hold from Thursday, 26th August, 2021 to Saturday, 28th August, 2021.
“In order to ensure the safety of staff and students during this period, the University will adhere strictly to all COVID-19 protocols.
“Special arrangements have been made with the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and Gbagada General Hospital for necessary isolation and treatment of any incidence of COVID-19 case during the examinations.
“The university management has approved the schedule of accommodation of bonafide students with allocated bed spaces in the hostels for the second semester examinations as follows: 100 and 200 level students with allocated bed spaces should move into the hostels from Thursday, 26th August 2021 and depart on or before Saturday, 11th September 2021.
“500 level Faculty of Law Students with allocated bed spaces should move into their hostels on Saturday, 28th August 2021 and depart on Sunday, 5th September 2021.”

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