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

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  • 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.”

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Breaking: Dangote brings diesel price down to N1000/litre

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Breaking: Dangote brings diesel price down to N1000/litre

Dangote Petroleum Refinery has announced a further reduction in the price of diesel.

When it commenced operation a few weeks ago, Dangote Petroleum Refinery pegged the price of diesel as N1,200.

While rolling out the products, the refinery supplied at a substantially reduced price of N1,200 per litre three weeks ago, representing over 30 percent reduction from the previous market price of about N1,600 per litre.

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However, on Tuesday, a further reduction of N200 was noticed in the price, with the product now pegged at N1,000.

This significant reduction in the price of diesel, at Dangote Petroleum Refinery, is expected to positively affect all the spheres of the economy and ultimately reduce the high inflation rate in the country.

The President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, had during the Eid-el-Fitr celebration said if the cost price of diesel comes down, the inflation rate will be substantially reduced.

Dangote spoke when he visited President Bola Tinubu in his residence in Lagos State to celebrate the end of the Ramadan fast with him.

Breaking: Dangote brings diesel price down to N1000/litre

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Naira records five-month highest gain, sells below N1000/$ at parallel market

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Naira records five-month highest gain, sells below N1000/$ at parallel market

The naira continued its positive showing against the United States dollar on Monday, selling below N1000/$ in some segments of the parallel market.

Newstrends reports that the Federal Government, groups and some individuals have mounted a spirited campaign for those hoarding the dollars to push them out as naira continues to appreciate.

On Monday, the naira was offered in some parts of Lagos and Abuja between N995 and N1,050 per dollar in the parallel market. It was N1,230/$ on Friday.
The latest gain, being over five-month highs, came in the wake of the Iranian attack on Israel and a rise in the crude oil price.
Goldman Sachs, American investment bank economists, had earlier predicted that the naira’s bullish momentum on the foreign exchange market would likely cause it to trade for less than N1,000 per US dollar in the coming months.
According to a report by Nairametrics, the group claimed that the rally in Nigerian currency helped recover from large losses after two devaluations since last June by being bolstered by capital inflows and successive interest rate hikes.
In March, Goldman Sachs projected that the Naira would appreciate to N1,200 per dollar in 2024.

At the official foreign exchange market, the rate was put at N1,136/$ in contrast with N1,205/$ last Friday.

The top bank has implemented several policy initiatives in recent months to bring stability to the foreign exchange market.
The CBN increased interest rates to 24.75% at the most recent meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), which helped it recover losses from the two devaluations that occurred since June of last year.
Further gains for the naira result from the CBN’s ongoing intervention, which involves selling foreign exchange to Bureau De Change operators at a revised rate.
The market anticipates higher inflows of US dollars from the sale of foreign currency bonds in the second quarter as disclosed by Finance Minister Wale Edun.

The Federal Government has just offered high-yield short-term debt products at a premium to entice overseas capital into the economy.

The Middle East’s geopolitical unrest and
Notwithstanding a drop in Nigeria’s production volume, crude oil prices have risen beyond $90.

Nigerian grades of oil are trading at a premium to the ICE Brent benchmark.

The Middle East’s geopolitical unrest and the anticipation of an Iranian government strike on Israel caused oil prices to soar.

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Breaking: Nigeria’s inflation rises to 33.2%, says NBS

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Breaking: Nigeria’s inflation rises to 33.2%, says NBS

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says the nation’s inflation rate rose to 33.2 per cent for the month of March 2024.

This represents a 1.5 per cent increase over 32.7 per cent recorded in February 2024.

The NBS disclosed this in a new report released on Monday.

It explained that the rise was primarily due to higher costs of food, beverages, energy, and housing. Compared to February 2024, the inflation rate in March increased at a slower pace, with food inflation reaching 40.01% year-on-year.

NBS attributed the spike in food prices to the rising costs of items like garri, millet, yam tubers, and others. On a month-on-month basis, food inflation slightly decreased to 3.62% in March 2024.

Urban inflation also increased to 35.18% year-on-year in March 2024, while rural inflation stood at 31.45%.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile agricultural products and energy, was 25.90% year-on-year in March 2024.

Overall, the rising cost of living in Nigeria is evident in the significant increase in inflation rates across different categories.

It is crucial for policymakers to address these challenges to alleviate the financial burden on the population.

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