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COVID-19

FG to test locally-made COVID-19 vaccine in November

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The COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Federal Government is set for trial by November

The PUNCH reports that the project, which is a mega research grant intervention tagged,  ‘Accelerated development of COVID-19 vaccines using innovative technological approach’, is a collaborative effort involving cluster researchers from five different institutions to consolidate problem-solving research and promote innovation in the country.

The PUNCH had earlier reported that Tertiary Education Trust Fund awarded a total of N1.25bn to four clusters of researchers.

One of the clusters, which is the Vaccine Production Cluster, got a total grant of N450m.

According to a statement by TETFUND and made available to our correspondent in Abuja, the VPC is made up of researchers from the National Veterinary Research Institute Vom; Usman Danfodiyo University Sokoto; Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Jos; Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Lagos; and National Research Institute for Chemical Technology, Zaria.

The statement titled, ‘TETFund-sponsored COVID-19 vaccine ready for trial November’ read in part, “The Vice Chancellor of Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Prof Lawal Bilbis, who led the team of researchers to brief the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Sonny Echono, on the progress so far explained that they were able to make the breakthrough through the maximum support of the fund.

“He recalled how the COVIC-19 pandemic ravaged and unleashed untold hardship on humanity globally, noting that Nigeria was only saved by divine intervention, since the nation was not prepared for such eventuality.

“TETFund believed in us and supported us to get to where we are now. That is why we have come to give a firsthand report on the progress made so far.”

A presentation by Dr Bashir Bello of Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, revealed that it had become a matter of urgency for Africa to join the rest of the world in the production of its own vaccine, as it was estimated that the continent currently imports 99 per cent of its vaccines and consumes 25 per cent of global vaccine supply.

-The Punch

COVID-19

Ogun bags best performing state award in RI, Covid-19 vaccination

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Ogun State Deputy Governor, Engr. Noimot Salako-Oyedele

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has declared Ogun  as the overall best performing state in the SouthWest on Routine Immunisation (RI) and Covid-19 Vaccination.

This was contained in a statement made available by the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker in Abeokuta, after the conferment of the award at the Immunisation Performance Award ceremony, held in commemoration of the 2022 African Vaccination Week in Abuja.

Coker, according to the Press Officer, Ogun State Primary Health Care Development Board (OGSPHCDB),  Yemisi Fashola, quoted that the award was in recognition of the state’s commitment and support towards improving the performance on Routine Immunisation and other primary health care activities in the country.

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The Commissioner stated that the award was received by the Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, who was represented by his Deputy, Engr. Noimot Salako-Oyedele.

While appreciating the Federal Government for deeming it fit to recognize the efforts of the State government at improving the wellbeing of its citizenry, Coker attributed the award to the support and hard work of the total health force, as well as the cooperation of residents in the State.

The Health Commissioner, who hailed the health workers for their efforts, said the African vaccination week was geared towards strengthening immunisation programmes in African region, by increasing awareness on the importance of every person’s need and right to be protected from vacation- preventable diseases.

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COVID-19: NAFDAC boss confirms Nigeria’s vaccines meet global standard

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NAFDAC Director General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has confirmed that vaccines produced in Nigeria including those for COVID-19, will be of “internationally acceptable standard”.

NAFDAC Director General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, made the affirmation in a press statement signed by the Agency’s Resident Media Consultant, Sayo Akintola

Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, the statement indicated made the disclosure during an oversight visit to the NAFDAC facilities and COVID-19 laboratory projects in Lagos last week Friday, by the House of Representatives Committee on COVID-19.

She described the Federal government’s FG huge spending on the fight against the virus as exemplified by the construction of the new laboratory, equipped with modern instruments and amenities at the Agency as a wake-up call for the country.

Prof. Adeyeye noted with dismay that the health sector had hitherto been neglected before the present administration responded through the COVID-19 Committees of the National Assembly, ‘’particularly the members that are here today’’.

In order to ensure that the health sector is strengthened, the NAFDAC asserted that the regulatory Agency must be strengthened.

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“If the regulatory agency is not strengthened, the industry will not be strengthened,’’ she said, adding; ‘’we have the African Free trade Agreement already here with us now for the nation’s pharmaceutical industry to take advantage of with quality products.’’

She added: ‘’there will be a lot of competition and if NAFDAC’s laboratory is not strengthened, we will not be able to compete’’.

‘’For vaccines, we are hoping that the vaccine facilities from the public- private partnership will soon happen’’, warning that ‘’but if the regulatory agency is not strong, we can make vaccines that will destroy our own people’’.

With NAFDAC now very strong with WHO Maturity Level 3 certification, Prof. Adeyeye enthused that ‘’Nigeria can now make her own vaccines and we can assure the populace that there is quality in whatever is being manufactured because of NAFDAC’s strength’’.

On the impact of COVID-19 fund has, she said this should resonate well with the whole country, that if you put the right people in the right places, then the vision of the government can be realized.

‘’Whatever approvals that are being given by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on funding our activities, you can actually touch such and this is what has happened here today’’, Prof. Adeyeye excitedly told the visiting lawmakers.

She commended the House COVID-19 committee, and the Healthcare Services Committee of the 9th Assembly for committing to ensuring that NAFDAC as a regulatory agency is known internationally.

Speaking in the same vein, Chairman, House Committee on COVID-19, Haruna Mshelia commended the NAFDAC boss and her team for leveraging on latest technology to upgrade the Agency to a standard that is next to none in Africa.

“We have seen with our eyes how they have leveraged on latest technology to upgrade the organization to a standard that is next to none in Africa. I think they need to be commended. We have seen the warehouse. We have now seen the laboratory which is under construction. They have gone very far, and the standard of the construction is good’’, he said.

He added: “We have also seen the equipment awaiting to be installed in the laboratories. I have to say kudos to the DG and her team for getting good value for money as far as COVID-19 funds for NAFDAC is concerned. Other Agencies should come to NAFDAC and learn how they have leveraged on ICT to move their organization forward so that everywhere our standard can be uplifted with everyone seeing it” Mshelia advised.

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COVID-19 infections rise by 231.5% in one month

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COVID-19 infections have reportedly risen by 231.5 per cent within one month in the country.

Epidemiological data obtained from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control showed that from May 28 to June 29, a total of 1,262 cases were reported.

But from June 30 to August 1, the cases took a new surge as 4,183 cases were reported, indicating an increase of 2,921 (231.5 per cent).

The country now has 261,473 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 3,147 deaths. The total recoveries in the country have now increased to 254,953.

The NCDC confirmed in its latest biweekly epidemiological report that in the last 10 weeks, the test positivity ratio had continued to increase with the majority of cases reported from Lagos, FCT, Rivers, and Kano states.

The NCDC, however, noted that there was a drop in the testing rate as reports for weeks 27 and 28 showed that the number of samples tested decreased to 24,411 from 35,063 reported in weeks 25 and 26.

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Meanwhile, only 27,528,710 Nigerians representing 24.6 per cent of the total eligible population targeted for COVID-19 vaccination have been fully vaccinated, while 11,768,202 have been partially vaccinated representing only 10.5 percent of the total eligible population, according to official data by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency.

The NCDC Director-General, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, told our correspondent that the agency’s surveillance system continued to record a gradual increase in COVID-19 cases across the country.

“This is a reminder of the prevailing risk we face and the need for continued adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions such as the use of face masks in closed gatherings, physical distancing, and regular hand washing.

“These should be done in addition to taking the vaccines which have been proven to be safe and effective in reducing the risk of severe illness from COVID-19,” he said.

 Yellow fever cases

Similarly, the NCDC has reported a total of 1,005 suspected cases of yellow fever from 36 states, including the FCT in 390 local government areas.

The cases were reported from January 1, 2022, to June 30, 2022.

According to the situation report, Borno State is leading with 88 cases, followed by Anambra State with 75 cases.

Yellow fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes. The “yellow” in the name refers to the jaundice that affects some patients.

Symptoms of yellow fever include fever, headache, jaundice, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.

A small proportion of patients who contract the virus develop severe symptoms and approximately half of those die within 7 to 10 days.

The report read in part, “The cases were reported from the following states: Abia (28), Adamawa (18), Akwa Ibom(8), Anambra (75), Bauchi (34), Bayelsa (13), Benue (15), Borno (88), Cross River (20), Delta(5), Ebonyi (25), Edo (11), Ekiti (18), Enugu (43), FCT (5), Gombe (14), Imo (38), Jigawa(71), Kaduna (8), Kano (4), Katsina (67), Kebbi (21), Kogi (12), Kwara (21), Lagos(4), Nasarawa(23), Niger (25), Ogun (22), Ondo (55), Osun (18), Oyo (60), Plateau (34), Rivers(22), Sokoto(16), Taraba (27), Yobe (24), Zamfara (13).

“Total of six presumptive positive and four inconclusive results were recorded from the Nigeria Laboratory network.

“These presumptive positives were from UBTH Benin (2), MDH Abuja (1), CPHL Lagos (2), and YDMH (1). The cases were reported from Edo -1 (Egor); Niger -1 (Suleja); Rivers-1 (Port-Harcourt); Sokoto-1 (Dange-shuni); Osun-1 (Atakunmosa East); Ondo-1 (Akure South). The inconclusive cases were reported from Oyo -1 (Olorunsogo); Anambra-2 (Idemili South & Ayamelum) and Imo -1 (Nwangele).”

 Expert reacts

Speaking with Saturday PUNCH, the Ondo State Epidemiologist, Dr Stephen Fagbemi, said the discovery of the COVID-19 and yellow fever cases showed that the surveillance system was active and strong.

“We are at the peak of the wet season; so, people will be coming down with the infection. People need to get vaccinated, some people got the first shot and ran away and some have not taken it at all. COVID-19 is still with us and people should keep adhering to the non-pharmaceutical protocols.

“For cases of yellow fever, it could be because some children missed out on vaccination during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic but we will overcome it,” Fagbemi said.

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