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Osinbajo talks about producing Local COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria

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Yemi Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the country should start a discussion on how to ramp up capacity to be able to manufacture vaccines locally.

Nigeria – and most African countries – has been largely left behind compared to countries such as the US, UK, Russia, and China that have rolled out mass vaccination programmes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The country is expected to take delivery of some 100,000 vaccine shots by the end of January, but that is a drop in the ocean, in relation to the population.

Nigeria is estimated to be home to over 200 million people.

“We are at a point where we can gain tremendously as a people from this pandemic and a lot of what has been said will really help in putting this in perspective for us as government, so we can actually go out and resolve many of these problems and improve the environment for ourselves, and for the coming generations in particular,” Osinbajo said, as quoted in a statement released by his media aide, Laolu Akande.

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The Vice President continued: “I think that we must be talking now about local vaccine production, improving the training of laboratory scientists, and generally improving our capacity to respond in various ways.

“We must really focus on the opportunities that this period really gives us. What I have noticed is that unless something like this happens, we are very frequently relaxed and just hope for the best. I think we are in a position now where we can do a lot. In fact, there is an opportunity to do more in terms of government funding.

“So, I think this is a major responsibility for us, the government, at this time, to really look at how we can, at least, do much better in terms of preparing young men and women for the challenges ahead. This point was also made about the quality of laboratory scientists and the quality of medical personnel and paramedics and all that.”

READ MR AKANDE’S FULL STATEMENT FOR THE VICE PRESIDENT:

STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE
OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT

OSINBAJO TO FG PUBLIC HEALTH AGENCIES & EXPERTS:

COVID-19 PANDEMIC OPPORTUNITY TO IMPROVE HEALTHCARE DELIVERY

*Local vaccine production, enforcement of non-pharmaceutical measures against virus & testing modalities reviewed at interaction with health & medical experts

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Just as COVID-19 poses one of humanity’s greatest public health challenges, the pandemic provides an opportunity to ramp up public health infrastructure in Nigeria including the training of required experts even as governments should be doing more in the area of funding, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this Thursday at a virtual meeting with top government officials and a group of Nigerian scientists who have been working on some of the public health dimensions of the pandemic.

The interaction which focused on Nigeria’s response and the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, featured presentations by one of Nigeria’s leading virologists, Prof. Oyewale Tomori; Infectious Diseases Scientist, Prof. Philip Onyebujoh, and the Director, African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), Redeemer’s University, Prof. Christian Happi.

On the government side at the interaction were Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire; the Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr Aliyu Sani; and the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu.

This is the second interaction the Vice President is holding this week with professors and scientists on the medical and public health dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier on Tuesday, he met with a group of scientific investigators into the possible usefulness of Ivermectin medication in the treatment of COVID-19.

“We are at a point where we can gain tremendously as a people from this pandemic and a lot of what has been said will really help in putting this in perspective for us as government, so we can actually go out and resolve many of these problems and improve the environment for ourselves, and for the coming generations in particular,” Prof. Osinbajo said after listening to the experts at the over 2 hours long meeting.

Acknowledging the significance of the interaction with the scientists especially in providing valuable suggestions in addressing the country’s public health challenges, the Vice President noted that “this has been an inspiring intervention and discussion. I say inspiring because it is evident that our experts (whether they are directly engaged or not) are also paying attention not just to an unfolding public health problem but also the very many opportunities that this problem provides for us, the many opportunities to ramp up our public health capacities in various ways.”

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Speaking further about leveraging the pandemic to address challenges in Nigeria’s public health infrastructure, Prof. Osinbajo added that “I think that we must focus on those opportunities and make the best of this situation.”

According to the Vice President, “I think that we must be talking now about local vaccine production, improving the training of laboratory scientists, and generally improving our capacity to respond in various ways.

“We must really focus on the opportunities that this period really gives us. What I have noticed is that unless something like this happens, we are very frequently relaxed and just hope for the best. I think we are in a position now where we can do a lot. In fact, there is the opportunity to do more in terms of government funding.”

“So, I think this is a major responsibility for us, the government, at this time, to really look at how we can, at least, do much better in terms of preparing young men and women for the challenges ahead. This point was also made about the quality of laboratory scientists and the quality of medical personnel and paramedics and all that.”

Earlier in his presentation, Prof. Tomori emphasized the need for authorities across different levels to leverage the opportunities created by the COVID-19 pandemic to overhaul the entirety of the country’s health system, noting that “we cannot let this pandemic go without starting the production of vaccines here in Nigeria”.

Stating his desire to help authorities resolve lingering issues in public health management, the renowned virologist noted that he has benefited so much from the country hence his love and desire to see a better society.

In the same vein, Prof. Happi emphasized the need for a closer collaboration between the public and private sectors to transform Nigeria’s health sector not only in providing the necessary infrastructure but in making possible the local manufacture of medical consumables.

On his part, Prof. Onyebujoh advocated improved coordination especially in the States in the areas of identification, isolation and clinical management of infected persons, for the country to effectively manage the current rate of transmission.

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He added that the acquisition of sufficient doses of vaccines would also go a long way in containing the transmission rate, calling on authorities to put in place effective strategies to manage the storage, distribution and the actual vaccination of persons.

Addressing some of the concerns raised at the forum, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire said the country was expecting about 10 million doses of the COVID-19 viral vector vaccine.

The minister added that the 10 million doses is aside the 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine being expected in the country, noting that both types of the vaccine would be received, sometime in March 2020.

Dr Ehanire noted that the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with other stakeholders had already put in place mechanisms for the management of the vaccines, but emphasized that Federal Government was encouraging the use of IVERMECTIN, while expecting more research done on the prophylactic use of the medication.

While commending the efforts of Nigerian scientists, especially in proffering solutions to the management of the pandemic, the Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu said there was need for the strengthening of enforcement of COVID-19 protocols, calling on state governments to work more closely with the Federal Government. He also assured that public testing was available for free to Nigerians.

On his part, the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu disclosed that in ramping up testing across the country, the NCDC has adopted rapid testing. He said rapid testing was deployed for the last orientation programme of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

He said the NCDC in collaboration with stakeholders was currently working on building the capacity of medical personnel across the country as part of measures adopted by the Federal Government to boost the country’s infectious disease response capabilities.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President

Covid-19

‘Nigeria To Escape Second Wave Of COVID-19 Soon- Dr. Ehanire Osagie

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Dr.-Osagie-Ehanire

Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Dr. Ehanire Osagie has said that the country might soon exit the second wave of the COVID-19 virus.

Dr. Osagie spoke at a briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday February 22.

He said the country has been recording a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases.

The Minister also disclosed that the decreased positivity rate from sustained testing in states, is synonymous with global trends.

He said; 

“This trend in reduction compares with global observations of seeming decline in COVID-19 cases, signifying that the second wave may be receding.

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“On 21st of February 2021, 521 new infections and 8 deaths occurred in 20 states. The sustained testing in states has decreased positively rate.

“We are, however, not drawing conclusions yet and certainly not declaring victory, but rather watching developments as they unfold nationally and internationally, ready to make use of comparative advantages that may emerge.”

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On the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in Guinea, Osagie said the Nigerian government is closely monitoring the situation and also collaborating with the West African Health Organization (WAHO).

He added; 

“Nigeria is closely observing developments on the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Guinea and working with West African Health Organization (WAHO) to contain it in the outbreak country of Guinea and prevent the spread to other countries in the region.

“We are pleased to note that the ECOWAS countries adjacent to the epicenter are taking strict measures with regard checking movement of persons.”

The Minister stated that though Nigeria has been classified as a moderate Ebola risk country because of its distance from Guinea, Port Health Service officers have been on high alert to step up border surveillance of travellers arriving by air or overland from destinations around the outbreak country  to avert disease importation.

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Nigeria Records 521 New COVID-19 Cases In A Day

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nIGERIA covid-19 cases today

521 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, on Sunday 21st of January.

NCDC made this know during their daily COVID-19 report in the country.

Lagos had the highest number of cases for the day with 166 new cases.

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Ogun came distant second with 52 new cases, Rivers had the third highest cases with 47 new cases.

Adamawa and Ebonyi both had 37 new cases for the day.

Here is a breakdown of the cases:

Lagos-166
Ogun-52
Rivers-47
Adamawa-37
Ebonyi-37
Akwa Ibom-25
Osun-21
Bayelsa-18
Kaduna-17
Oyo-16
FCT-15
Ekiti-14
Kano-12
Edo-12
Borno-9
Yobe-8
Ondo-6
Nasarawa-4
Bauchi-2
Kwara-3

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As at the time of this report, Nigeria has recorded 152,074 confirmed cases, 128,619 discharged patients and 1,839 deaths so far.

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Covid-19

Biden Set To Announce $4 billion Donation For COVID-19 Vaccines To Poor Countries

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JOE BIDEN

The President of the United States, Joe Biden is expected to announce on today, Friday that the United States will make first contribution of  $2 billion to a United Nations backed program seeking to distribute COVID-19 vaccine doses to people in the poorest countries in the world, according to senior Biden administration officials.

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ABC News reported that Congress had already allocated the money in December for the U.S. Agency for International Development to provide to Gavi, an international vaccine distribution alliance. The congress provided a total of $4 billion and officials said that the U.S. would give the rest to Gavi over the course of this year and 2022.

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President Biden intends to announce during a virtual meeting of the Group of Seven leaders.

To date, 10 countries have administered 75% of all COVID-19 vaccines, while more than 130 countries have not yet received a single dose, the United Nations said Wednesday.

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The United States has so far purchased 600 million vaccine doses, but it does not intend to give any of them to other countries until “there is sufficient supply in the United States.”

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‘Using COVID-19 Vaccines Carry Certain Amount Of risks’ – Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire

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Dr.-Osagie-Ehanire

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, has told Nigerians that the COVID-19 vaccines carry a certain amount of risk when used.

The World Health Organization (WHO), on the 11th of February a released a document detailing the use and risks associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. According to the Health organization, people with a history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine should not take it,” and it is also not recommended for persons younger than 18 years “pending the results of further studies”.

Ehanire at the press briefing by the presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19 on Monday, February 15, said arrangements have been made for effective distribution of the vaccines that are expected to arrive Nigeria by the end of February.

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“It is important to stress that all COVID-19 vaccines carry a certain amount of risk, and any vaccine not approved by the federal ministry of health through its agencies cannot be used in Nigeria.

The government will not be responsible for the safety or efficacy of vaccines given outside the framework of the government. All the needs of Nigeria have been carefully calculated by NPHCDA, and it is possible to accommodate all interests in the framework.

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We have continued to work on the rollout of our COVID-19 vaccines, when they arrive. This morning, I inaugurated the vaccine coordination committee, an inter-ministerial, multi-sectoral committee to address diverse issues peculiar to COVID-19 vaccine acquisition by Nigeria. Their function is to advise on coordinating access to acquisition and distribution of vaccines when available, and on our immunisation strategy.

The ministry of health also engaged the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), who informed us of the free allocation of 1.4 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, of which 500,000 doses are expected by the end of this month, courtesy of MTN donation of seven million doses to Africa. The balance of 900,000 doses for Nigeria is expected by the end of March 2021. Other sources of vaccines are under negotiation.” Ehanire said

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The Minister disclosed that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has received dossiers for vaccines manufactured in Russia, India, and China for evaluation and validation for use in Nigeria, with some of them nearly ready for results.

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COVID-19 Cases Reduce In Nigeria As Low Cases Recorded On Monday

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COVID-19 Testing

574 new CODI-19 cases were recorded on Monday February 16 according to Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC.

NCDC made this known during their daily COVID-19 report in the country.

In the report, Kwara state had the highest number of cases for the day with 98 new cases.

ALSO READ  Nigeria Records 1,131 Fresh COVID-19 Cases In 21 States and FCT

Lagos state which has the total highest COVID-19 cases in the country was close second with 81 new cases.

Others are: Edo- 59, Ondo- 44, FCT- 41, Kano- 34, Ogun- 33, Kaduna- 29, Osun- 28, Enugu- 23, Rivers- 18, Delta-16, Akwa Ibom-15, Bauchi-12, Imo-10, Borno-8, Niger-8, Kebbi-7, Nasarawa-5, Gombe-3, Ekiti-2.

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As at the time of this report, Nigeria’s COVID-19 figures stand at, 146,928 confirmed cases, 123,009 discharged patients and 1,761 deaths.

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