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COVID-19: Nigeria receives almost 700,000 new vaccines donation from UK

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As part of the three million doses of UK-donated vaccines to 11 countries across Africa, Nigeria has received fresh 699,760 doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines against the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) from the United Kingdom, who had promised to gift 80 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX.

The vaccines which were unveiled at a cold storage unit near the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, were flown into Abuja on Monday night.

Acting British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Gill Atkinson, joined the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative to Nigeria, Dr. Walter Mulombo, for the unveiling, alongside other dignitaries.

The UK had sent 119, 200 doses to Zambia and 51,840 to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on August 13. It also sent 119,040 doses to Malawi on August 14; 140,160 to Senegal on August 15; 299,680 to Egypt on August 16. Uganda is expecting 299,520 doses today.

Lately, the UK has restructured its health and human development programmes to support Nigeria’s response and continues to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak across all nine pillars of the government’s incident action plans, through the UK Health Security agency, formerly the Public Health England (PHE), and FCDO’s Lafiya health programme in selected states, as well as direct technical engagement at the federal level.

This includes providing experts’ support for outbreak preparedness and response, helping increase testing capacity and strengthening the work of labs, and embedding staff in the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to provide technical support.

UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, said: “Three million doses of UK-donated vaccines are now arriving in 11 countries across Africa, including Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, to help the fight against COVID-19. This is the first batch of 80 million being donated via COVAX – because we know that no one is safe until everyone is safe.

Acting British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Gill Atkinson, said: “The UK was one of the first countries to back COVAX with £548 million. We have consistently pushed for a global effort that helps every country receive the vaccine against COVID-19. I am so pleased to see Nigeria receive 699,760 doses, donated by the UK, in its second batch of the vaccine through COVAX. This is the first tranche of the 1,299,760 doses expected to be donated by the UK through COVAX. Only by vaccinating more people around the world can we bring an end to the pandemic.”

 

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HEALTH

“Nigeria to increase effort in fighting sub-standard products”

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By Michael Dibie

Minister of state for Health, Joseph Ekumankama has reiterated that the government of Nigeria will continue to fight the activities of sub-standard products in the health sector which has over the years impeded operations in the industry. The minister made the promise at the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists (WAPCP)/ The National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) scientific workshop held in Abuja.

According to the minister, the government will increase its effort in fighting the menace through the activities of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration (NAFDAC) and Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON),

“Sub-standard product has been a fight we have been fighting for years and we will continue to do so, it may not stop today but we will support the agency to continue to fight it, he said”

Speaking on the workshop, he notated that auspicious event is aimed at bringing together critical stakeholders within the pharmaceutical sector to review the existing capacities for the local production of API in Nigeria and develop strategies to accelerate the process in the West African Region, leveraging on the African Free Continental Trade Area (AfCFTA).

According to the minister, there are still significant barriers to access to quality medicines and healthcare provision to the Nigeria population.

“The situation where there is no single pharmaceutical company that produces any APIs or pharmaceutical excipients locally is no longer tolerable. All of the APIs used by the industries in Nigeria are imported from India, China, the USA and Germany, he added”

In a keynote address, the Director General (NIPRD), Dr. Obi Peter Adigwe said that NIPRD has proffered solutions both national and international willing to bring in innovations that can help Africa and taking Nigeria projects to the next level.

“We train people in the area of traditional medicines through harnessing local ingredients and creating jobs. Our multi-billion Laboratory is almost completed and new innovations in the health sector are being looked into in other to access new ways or avenues of doing things, he added’
He also noted that NIPRD will continue to focus on innovative projects for the people that will encourage job creation and access to quality health delivery

President of the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists, Prof. Cecilia Igwilo called on developed countries to support the sector in getting all the active ingredients from the research table into the pilot table to production. She urged the agencies to partner for developmental research projects.

‘If we have active ingredients, we want to push 1-3, we must make sure that we patted that through the proper organization so that it will be there for the next 10 years depending on the duration in other to recover and ensure that no other person does what we are doing, she said”

Speaking on the effect of the Covid-19 on Africa, Chief of Party, USP, MOPA ESUGA said. The African continent was worst hit by scarcity of essential medication and needed medical supplies on account of export bans placed by India and China.

According to him, the manufacture of APIs is still at a modest level in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Africa taking the lead.
“I believe my role today is not just about the science of API manufacturing but agenda-setting that should galvanize the key stakeholders towards strategies that make for the manufacture of APIs in the West Africa sub-region”

It should be noted that in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where the overall pharmaceutical market size is worth US$ 20 billion annually, the production of life-saving medicines is furthermore concentrated in very few countries: 50 per cent of pharmaceutical manufacturing takes place in South Africa and an additional 40 per cent in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda combined.

The overall African Pharmaceutical sector is worth US$ 30 billion per annum. However, the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector in Africa contributes to only 25-30 per cent of the continent’s needs.

NIPRD is a Federal Government Parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Health. The institute was designated a center of Excellence in the African sub-region in research and development of drugs and vaccines, phytomedicines, and diagnostic towards improving the health and well-being of Nigerians and mankind.

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HEALTH

“This is why you may have contacted Omicron without knowing” -WHO

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The Omicron COVID-19 variant is more transmissible than the Delta strain and reduces vaccine efficacy but causes less severe symptoms according to early data, the World Health Organisation said Sunday.

The Delta variant, first identified in India earlier this year, is responsible for most of the world’s coronavirus infections.

But South Africa’s discovery of Omicron – which has a large number of mutations — last month prompted countries around the world to impose travel bans on southern African countries and reintroduce domestic restrictions to slow its spread.

The WHO said Omicron had spread to 63 countries as of December 9. 

The faster transmission was noted in South Africa, where Delta is less prevalent, and in Britain, where Delta is the dominant strain.

But it stressed that a lack of data meant it could not say if Omicron’s rate of transmission was because it was less prone to immune responses, higher transmissibility, or a combination of both.

Early evidence suggests Omicron causes “a reduction in vaccine efficacy against infection and transmission”, the WHO said in a technical brief.

“Given the current available data, it is likely that Omicron will outpace the Delta variant where community transmission occurs,” it added.

Omicron infections have so far caused “mild” illness or asymptomatic cases, but the WHO said the data was insufficient to establish the variant’s clinical severity.

South Africa reported Omicron to the WHO on November 24. Vaccine manufacturers Pfizer/BioNTech last week said three doses of their jabs were still effective against Omicron.

Countries with sufficient vaccine supplies such as Britain and France have encouraged their populations to receive a third “booster” jab to fight Omicron.

(AFP) 

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HEALTH

WHO joins forces with FIFA, Quatar to launch #ACTogether campaign on CVID-19

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Using the platform of the first FIFA Arab Cup™, the World Health Organization (WHO), FIFA and the Qatari authorities are launching the #ACTogether campaign to call for teamwork and unity to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests.

A large proportion of the global population remains susceptible to infection and at an increased risk of severe disease and death. Vaccine inequity persists in many parts of the world; of the nearly 7.5 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered globally by mid-November 2021, only 0.6% had been administered in low‑income countries. The WHO is emphasizing the need to scale up access to vaccines, treatments and diagnostics, through support to the global Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator equity initiative, as well as the importance of strict adherence to public health measures.

FIFA will utilize football’s substantial platform during the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021™ with a series of videos for broadcast, both in-stadium and around Doha. Team captains will also show their support for the message, while each participating member association will have assets to share with its fans via its social and digital platforms. The #ACTogether awareness initiative was first rolled out during the last edition of the FIFA Club World Cup™ in Qatar in February 2021 and its latest iteration stresses that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “Nobody is safe until everyone is safe and we all have our roles to play in sharing that message. Health comes first, and through football, we can reinforce the message that high infection and death rates will persist worldwide as long as there is inequitable access to tools to fight the pandemic. Teamwork is key to that and that’s why we are standing together with the WHO, the Qatar Ministry of Public Health and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and call for everyone to #ACTogether and lay the foundations for a healthy FIFA World Cup in 2022.”

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said: “The emergence of the Omicron variant underlines the importance of global solidarity and working together to defeat the pandemic. I welcome the strong support from Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, FIFA, players, spectators and partners to support this vital message on the occasion of the FIFA Arab Cup. Now, more than ever, we need to facilitate equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests, and encourage everyone to follow public health measures. Fully funding the ACT Accelerator will help make the ambition of ending the acute phase of the pandemic a reality.”

Her Excellency Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Qatar’s Minister of Public Health, said: “The Ministry is proud to be partnered with FIFA and WHO to promote global collaboration and ensure the safety and health of all. While the pandemic remains managed in Qatar, the threat of the pandemic is still present around the world, and unfortunately access to the tools to defeat the virus remain limited for many countries.”

Her Excellency noted that just as the players in the FIFA Arab Cup will experience a level playing field on the pitch in Qatar, the world needs to ensure a level playing field exists for getting vaccines, treatments and tests where they are needed most. She called on members of the public to continue to follow hygiene, social distancing and other preventive measures, and expressed her delight to have the chance to promote this vital message at the Arab Cup.

Mr Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, said: “The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will be the next mega-event to take place in a COVID-19 world. As organizers, the health and safety of all participants and fans is our number one priority, and our support for #ACTogether is an integral part of this commitment. Working closely with the Ministry of Public Health, the WHO and FIFA, we have no doubt that this campaign will contribute to ensuring that the tournament will be both safe and secure, and we look forward to bringing the world together, both in person and digitally, to celebrate their common humanity and passion for football.”

In using the inaugural FIFA Arab Cup 2021 to share the message, FIFA and its partners are underlining their commitment to both fair play and equity in protecting public health, reflecting core values on the pitch, all while staying true to the main public health measures.

The #ACTogether campaign is being supported by the lead partner agencies of the ACT Accelerator initiative: CEPI, FIND, Gavi, The Global Fund, UNICEF, Unitaid, Wellcome, the WHO, the World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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