South Africa has secured 20 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, the health minister told a Sunday newspaper.
Africa’s worst virus-hit country has yet to begin vaccinating its population against Covid-19, stirring criticism over slow procurement and lack of strategy.
A first shipment of AstraZeneca/Oxford jabs produced in India is due to arrive on Monday, with injections expected to start two weeks later.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told The Sunday Times that 20 million additional vaccines had been ordered from US drugmaker Pfizer.
“These vaccines are secured and awaiting manufacturers to submit final agreements with details of delivery dates and exact amounts,” said Mkhize.
The health ministry did not respond to several AFP requests for comment.
The new Pfizer order will complement 12 million vaccine doses from the WHO-backed Covax facility, nine million Johnson & Johnson shots and 1.5 million AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines — pushing the total supply secured so far to over 40 million.
South Africa aims to vaccinate 67 percent of the population, or 40 million people, by the end of the year.
Some vaccines will be provided by Covax and the African Union, while others will be directly purchased from suppliers.
“We are reasonably comfortable that what we have paid for, signed for and are negotiating for will cover the numbers that we are looking to vaccinate,” Mkhize assured.
The minister added that storage of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which needs to be kept at -70 degrees Celsius, would not be an issue.
“We have some capacity, mostly in academic institutions. There are now companies coming forward with storage and transit solutions,” he said.
South Africa’s coronavirus outbreak has been accelerated by a new variant thought to be more contagious than earlier forms and relatively more resistant to existing vaccines.
To date the country has recorded more than 1.4 million infections and almost 45,000 deaths.
China Government Mandates COVID-19 Anal Swabs For Foreign Travelers
The Chinese Government has made the anal COVID-19 swabs mandatory for all foreign travelers entering into country.
According to the government such tests provide a higher degree of accuracy than other screening methods for the virus, the Times UK reported.
As part of the new travel requirement, there will be testing hubs in Beijing and Shanghai airports, the outlet reported.
Li Tongzeng, a respiratory disease medic, said that the anal swabs are better because virus traces stay longer in fecal samples than they do in the nose or throat, state media reported.
“If we add anal swab testing, it can raise our rate of identifying infected patients,” Li Tongzeng told the Washington Post in January.
The move follows calls from the US and Japan to stop performing the “undignified” tests on their citizens when they enter the country because the swabs cause mental anguish.
On Tuesday, China apologized and agreed to stop using anal swabs on American diplomats after some members of US President Joe Biden’s administration complained about the method.
“The State Department never agreed to this kind of testing and protested directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when we learned that some staff were subject to it,” a spokesperson said, adding that Beijing told them the testing was an “error” and diplomats were supposed to be exempt.
The Japanese Government later spoke out over the “psychological pain” their citizens were experiencing from the tests.
“Some Japanese reported to our embassy in China that they received anal swab tests, which caused a great psychological pain,” Katsunobu Kato, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, told a press conference.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, however, defended the screenings as “science-based”
The tests are “in accordance with the changes in the epidemic situation as well as relevant laws and regulations,” he said.
The test, which takes around 10 seconds, involves a saline-soaked cotton swab being inserted three to five centimetres into the rectum and rotated several times. When the swab is then removed it will be securely placed in a test container before the sample is then tested for traces of the virus.
Nigeria Records 464 New COVID-19 Cases
464 new COVID-19 Cases were recorded in Nigeria on Wednesday March 3rd by Nigeria Centre For Disease Control (NCDC).
NCDC made this known during their daily COVID-19 report in the country.
In the report, Lagos State had the highest number of new cases with 131 new cases recorded in the state.
Kaduna came a distant second with 69 new cases.
SEE THE REPORT BY STATES BELOW
Nigeria’s figure stands at 156,963 confirmed cases, 135,831 discharged patients and 1,939 deaths
2.3 Million Nigerians Registered For COVID-19 Vaccination Under 24 Hours
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has disclosed that 2.3m Nigerians registered for COVID-19 vaccination under less than 24 hours after it announced the launch of a portal for registration for getting vaccinated.
The Executive Director of NPHCDA, Faisal Shuaib disclosed that there is enthusiasm in Nigeria over Monday’s arrival of 4m doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 jabs in an interview on Channels TV.
“I can tell you that there is a lot of excitement [about the vaccine arrival]. I know some people have their concerns and we are trying but I want to give you an example of the enthusiasm that Nigerians are showing around wanting to take these vaccines.
“Around midday on Monday when we launched the e-registration platform, in less than 24 hours, we already had up to 2.3m Nigerians who had registered. And that number continues to increase.”
He added that the first batch of vaccines is a major boost in Nigeria’s fight against the disease which has been contracted by over 150,000 people in the nation
“So, we take that very seriously and this is why we are going to be working very hard.
“Yes, the vaccines are here, but there is even harder work that needs to go on to make sure that we deliver the vaccines into the arms of Nigerians in a way that is respectful, in a way that is stress-free.”
Buhari, Osinbajo, Others To Recieve COVID-19 Vaccine On Saturday
President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha and other executive Nigerians would recieve the COVID-19 vaccine on live television on Saturday March 6.
The disclosure was made by the Executive Director/CEO, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib on Monday March 1 at the joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, ahead of the arrival of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in the country on Tuesday March 2.
Shuaib said prominent Nigerians will be among the first set of Nigerians to receive the vaccine to drive awareness on the virus and the vaccine administration in the country when it finally arrives.
He urged Nigerians not to be hesitant about the vaccines when they arrive.
‘Nigeria To Escape Second Wave Of COVID-19 Soon- Dr. Ehanire Osagie
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.
“This trend in reduction compares with global observations of seeming decline in COVID-19 cases, signifying that the second wave may be receding.
“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.”
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).
“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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