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UK starts mass COVID vaccination programme today



Britain on Tuesday recorded a turning point in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, as it began the biggest vaccination programme in the country’s history with a new COVID-19 jab.

The first patients in line on what has been dubbed “V-Day” — the over-80s, care home workers and at-risk frontline health and social care staff — will roll up their sleeves for an initial dose from early morning.

They will then require a second jab in 21 days’ time.

Last week Britain became the first country to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, raising hopes of a breakthrough in the pandemic, which has killed more than 1.5 million worldwide.

Britain has been one of the worst-affected countries in the world, with more than 61,000 deaths in the outbreak from 1.6 million cases.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who spent days in intensive care with Covid-19 earlier this year, called it a “huge step forward in the UK’s fight against coronavirus”.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who has offered to have the jab on live television to allay public fears, said the roll-out was a “key moment” that would protect the most vulnerable.

The head of the state-run National Health Service in England, Simon Stevens, said it was a “decisive turning point” against the “greatest health challenge” since the NHS was founded in 1948.

Regulatory approval for the vaccine was given last Wednesday, sparking a race against time to prepare scores of vaccination centres across the country.

The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the jab — enough to vaccinate 20 million people — with 800,000 in the first batch.

Up to four million doses are expected by the end of December.

Queen could lead way

The mass vaccination drive is a coordinated response by all four nations of the UK — England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — which normally set their own health policies.

The public has been largely favourable to the rapid approval of the vaccine, but ministers and health professionals are aware they still need to combat mistrust.


The independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency maintains that no corners were cut and its assessment and approval procedures met stringent international norms.

NHS England said thousands had already been given the jab during trials with no serious side effects.

Nevertheless, it has been reported Queen Elizabeth II, who at 94 is among those first in the line for the vaccination because of her age, could front a public awareness campaign urging compliance.

The government said it will hand out vaccine cards to remind people to get the booster after three weeks, but insisted it was not introducing immunity certificates.

The chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said the vaccine will as a result only have a “marginal impact” on hospital numbers over the winter months.

Johnson called for patience and urged the public to stick to strict social distancing guidelines to prevent a spike in cases, particular as rules are relaxed over Christmas.


Health officials have already run into a logistical headache about how to administer the vaccine to elderly or infirm care home residents.

The vaccine needs to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius (-94 Fahrenheit), leaving hospitals and other medical hubs as the only places able to deal with such ultra-low temperatures.

With the Pfizer-BioNTech drug made in Belgium, concerns have also been raised about potential disruption to supply when Britain leaves the European Union’s single market and customs union.


But the UK government said the military is on stand-by to air-lift the vaccine if there is any border disruption from January 1.

The bulk of Britain’s vaccine requirements are expected to be met by a jab developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, which is awaiting regulatory approval.

The government has ordered an initial 100 million doses of the drug, which is cheaper to manufacture, and easier to store and transport using conventional fridges.



UNICEF Nigeria raises alarm over unprecedented diphtheria outbreak



UNICEF Nigeria raises alarm over unprecedented diphtheria outbreak

…urges urgent vaccination

IN the midst of the most severe diphtheria outbreak in recent global history, UNICEF Nigeria is sounding the alarm about the urgent need for widespread vaccination. The outbreak has so far resulted in over 11,500 suspected cases, more than 7,000 confirmed cases, and claimed the lives of 453 people, mostly children.

Most cases are children aged between 4 to 15 years who have not received even a single dose of the vital vaccine, laying bare the urgency of the vaccination situation in Nigeria.

UNICEF is providing urgent support to the Nigerian government in its efforts to combat the outbreak. A crucial part of this support includes the procurement of vaccines to support the government’s response. So far, on behalf of the government, UNICEF has deployed 9.3 million doses of diphtheria vaccines to affected states including Kano, Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, Katsina, Kaduna and Jigawa. Of these, 4 million doses have been dispatched to Kano, the epicentre of the outbreak. Another 4 million doses of vaccines are being procured and will be handed over to government in the coming weeks.


“The devastating impact of this diphtheria outbreak is a grim reminder of the importance of vaccination. Nigeria is home to a staggering 2.2 million children who haven’t received even a single dose of vaccine – the second largest such cohort in the world. We must collectively take urgent actions to drastically reduce this number. Every child deserves protection from preventable diseases. This is not negotiable”, said Dr. Rownak Khan, UNICEF Representative a.i.

UNICEF Nigeria calls on partners, stakeholders, and the international community to rally together to ensure that every child in Nigeria is reached with life-saving vaccines. The children’s agency emphasizes the importance of strengthening routine immunization, community engagement, and health systems to avoid similar outbreaks in the future.

To respond effectively to the outbreak, UNICEF Nigeria needs to raise an additional US$ 3.3 million until the end of the year.

UNICEF Nigeria raises alarm over unprecedented diphtheria outbreak

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10 die as Jigawa records 91 suspected diphtheria cases



10 die as Jigawa records 91 suspected diphtheria cases

The Jigawa State Ministry of Health has confirmed the death of 10 people following an outbreak of 91 suspected cases of diphtheria across 14 local government areas in the state.

The permanent secretary in the ministry, Dr Salisu Mu’azu, who said this while fielding questions from newsmen in Dutse, said that so far, two cases had been confirmed at Kazaure and Jahun local government areas, while some samples have been taken to Abuja for confirmation.

He said the outbreak occurred in areas where there was zero-dose of routine immunisation against the epidemic.


Dr Ma’azu said the ministry had already conducted investigation and collected necessary information and data in the affected areas and updated the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHDA) and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for further action.

He said the state government was making arrangements to administer vaccines in state once they are available.

Dr Muazu attributed the outbreak to health care service disruptions some years back during the COVID-19 pandemic when everything was suspended; hence, carrying out routine immunisation was a challenge.

10 die as Jigawa records 91 suspected diphtheria cases

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Boy With Missing Intestine: New twist as private Medical Doctors accuse Lagos Assembly of bias



Adebola Akin-Bright

Boy With Missing Intestine: New twist as private Medical Doctors accuse Lagos Assembly of bias

The Association of Nigerian Private Medical Practitioners (ANPMP), Lagos State Chapter, has accused the ad-hoc committee constituted by the Lagos House of Assembly to investigate the circumstances surrounding the alleged disappearance of the small intestines of late Adebola Akin-Bright of bias.

The chairman of the ad-hoc committee, Noheem Adams, had revealed that Doctor Abayomi Baiyewu of Obitoks Hospital who performed surgeries twice on Adebola is not a qualified surgeon.

Adams said during investigation, the committee learnt from Baiyewu that he is not a surgeon but only relied on his experience as a medical doctor to perform the surgeries.

Consequently, the Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa, directed the Clerk, Olalekan Onafeko, to write to the state police command for the arrest of Baiyewu.

Obasa further asked the committee to look into other grey areas including inviting officials of the Health Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency (HEFAMAA) which has the law-backed responsibility to monitor private hospitals operating in the state.

But reacting in a statement jointly signed by its Lagos Branch Chairman, Dr Makinde Akinlemibola and General Secretary, Dr Debo Adebiyi, ANPMP said that the panel demonstrated witch-hunt.

According to the association, while the panel attempted to reduce the session of its member to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, that of the doctor from the government hospital involved in the management of the boy was allowed to give a detailed report.

It pointed out that the panel not including a doctor, made it difficult for the panel to properly investigate the matter.


ANPMP noted that there was clear evidence that members of the panel were ‘genuinely ignorant’ of some of the workings of the medical profession which became obvious from some of the questions posed during their sitting.

The association called for a thorough investigation by a well-constituted professional team, adding that the only body empowered by law to investigate this kind of case is the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN).

“It is important to note that the honourable members of the panel also demonstrated a clear case of witch-hunt and working to a predetermined answer by attempting to reduce the session to a “Yes” and “No” session for our member from the private hospital while the doctor from the government hospital involved in the management of the deceased was given the latitude to give a detailed report.

“The bias was taken to a ridiculous level when the same doctor who operated on the patient at the government hospital was asked to assess and determine the response of the doctor who operated on the patient in the private hospital. A case of being a judge in your case you would say!

“Of course, the doctor seeing the absurdity of the request cleverly declined.

“A similar panel set up earlier by the Ministry of Health (HEFAMAA) that had a surgeon on the seat had confirmed that the X-ray films taken while the patient was on admission at LASUTH also showed the presence of the intestines.

“Information available to us also confirms that a large mass of black tissue was removed at LASUTH and handed to the patient’s mother to take to the histopathology laboratory by the team that operated on the patient at LASUTH after they came out of the theatre.

“Strangely, the government through their agency, HEFAMAA rushed to seal up the theatre of the private hospital, while the government hospital where the patient was operated on and eventually died was left to continue to operate as if nothing happened.

“We have to emphasise here that matters of this nature deserve thorough investigation by a well-constituted professional team and the only body empowered by law to investigate such cases is the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN,” the statement read partly.


ANPMP stated that based on available scientific evidence at its disposal, it has been able to establish some privileged and incontrovertible facts.

The association explained that an ultrasound scan and X-ray done at LASUTH on June 19 confirmed that there was the presence of normal intestinal movement.

“The patient was first operated on at Obitoks Hospital 6th of March 2023 on account of a ruptured appendix after he was referred from a medical centre where he was managed for typhoid enteritis.

“It was discovered on the operation table that there was an abscess which will require a different management approach to drain. (The appendix at that time must not be removed because of the abscess). The patient however got better afterwards.

“The patient presented again about 3 months later and a diagnosis of obstructed intestine was made which necessitated operating on the abdomen again to relieve the obstruction.

“It is a fact that the parents were invited into the operating room to see and confirm the point of obstruction and the 4 inches of the small intestine to be removed, out of the about 24 feet of the normal small intestine.

“It was also established that the patient was referred to the tertiary centre 8 days post-operation at the request of the parents. It is a fact that the patient was admitted to LASUTH on the 17th of June.

“The patient was however eventually operated upon on the 14th of July 2023 (i.e. 28 days after admission in LASUTH). It is therefore strange how the story of the missing/disappearing intestine gained prominence in the media in a patient who was on admission to a public facility (LASUTH) for almost 28 days.

“The question to then ask is, how did the patient survive for 28 days without intestine? In addition to this, it was also established as confirmed by ultrasound scan and X-ray done at LASUTH on the 19th of June (I.e. 3rd day on admission) that there was the presence of normal intestinal movement,” the statement added.

Adebola died on Tuesday, after two surgeries performed at a private hospital and a corrective surgery at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH).

Boy With Missing Intestine: New twist as private Medical Doctors accuse Lagos Assembly of bias

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