World News

Australia approves 2nd vaccine for children amid battle against COVID-19

Australia approves 2nd vaccine for children amid battle against COVID-19
Australia’s medical regulator the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) said on Thursday that it has provisionally approved the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for use in individuals aged six years and older.

The decision follows the provisional approvals granted by the TGA to Moderna for the use of the vaccine, SPIKEVAX, in individuals aged 12 years and older in September 2021.

“As for other age groups, the use of this vaccine in children aged six to 11 years should be administered as two doses at least 28 days apart,” the TGA said in a statement.

It said a lower dose of 0.25 mL (50 micrograms) will be given to children six to11 years, compared to the 0.5 mL (100 micrograms) dose used for those 12 years and older.

SPIKEVAX now joins Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine as the recommended vaccines for Australian children.

Australia on Thursday reported more than 25,000 new COVID-19 cases and more than 60 deaths, including 39 in Queensland, 14 in New South Wales and nine in Victoria.

According to the department of health data, there were 2,738 cases being treated in hospitals on Wednesday including 223 in intensive care.

In recent days, Australia’s parliament has been hit by a coronavirus outbreak.

Pat Conroy, the opposition Labor party’s international development spokesperson, became the fourth Member of parliament in 24 hours to test positive for COVID-19.

“On Wednesday afternoon, in Canberra for Parliament, I took a PCR test on advice from parliamentary officials, this test has come back positive for COVID.

“I am double vaxxed with a booster and will follow the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) health directions, please stay safe,” Conroy wrote on social media.


98,271 persons fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in Benue- Official

The Executive Secretary, Benue Primary Healthcare Board, Dr Bem Ageda says 98,271 people have been fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

Ageda, represented by the Health Educator in the agency, Mr Emmanuel Beeka, made this known at a one-day Media Refresher Orientation workshop organised by Breakthrough ACTION Nigeria (BA-N), an NGO, for media professionals in Makurdi.

He said explained that out of the number, 72,996 persons were fully immunised using the Astrazeneca vaccine.

”25,160 were immunized using the Moderna vaccine while the remaining 120 were immunized using the Pfizer vaccine,” Ageda said.

He also said that out of the 180,226 people who took their first jab of Atrazeneca, only 72,996 completed their dose.

“Out of the number of people who completed their dose, only 996 have taken their booster shots,” Ageda said.

He said that Benue recorded one case of fatal side effects.

”The patient is a staff of the Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH).

”I call on the people of the state to take the vaccine against COVID-19. It is safe and free.

“The board is not resting on its oars in carrying out sensitization on the need for people to be immunised as a measure of checking the spread of the virus.

“I commend international organizations such as the UNICEF for for their sustained support to the board.

“We established 298 sites across the state to facilitate easy access to the vaccines,” Ageda said.

Meanwhile, the State Epidemiologist, Dr Samuel Ngishe, said that Benue recorded a total of 47, 569 suspected cases out of which 2,141 cases had been confirmed.

“Makurdi Local Government Area (LGA) recorded the highest rate of deaths with 24 followed by Gboko with one case,” Ngishe.

The state Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Prof. Joseph Ngbea, stressed that immunisation and vaccination remained the mainstay in eliminating diseases.

He expressed worry that social and cultural barriers had continued to be a hindrance to raising the consciousness of the people towards COVID-19 vaccination.


U.S Army vows to discharge soldiers who reject COVID-19 vaccination, issues deadline

The compliant measure has gotten tougher as the U.S Army vows to disengage soldiers who refuse vaccination.

The Army said it will “immediately begin separating Soldiers from the service” who refuse to be vaccinated or who don’t have an approved or pending request for exemption.

“Army readiness depends on Soldiers who are prepared to train, deploy, fight and win our nation’s wars,” said Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth. “Unvaccinated Soldiers present risk to the force and jeopardize readiness.”

Soldiers who are discharged for refusing to be vaccinated “will not be eligible for involuntary separation pay” and may have to return any unearned special or incentive pay, the Army said.

As of Jan. 26, it said, 96% of active troops have been completely vaccinated, while 3,350 soldiers have refused to get the vaccine. Nearly 5,900 have received temporary exemptions.

Those who have asked for a medical exemption or religious accommodations are temporarily exempt from the vaccination requirement while their requests are being reviewed.

“To date, Army commanders have relieved a total of six Regular Army leaders, including two battalion commanders, and issued 3,073 general officer written reprimands to Soldiers for refusing the vaccination order,” the Army said late last month.

The Pentagon began requiring members of the military to get vaccinated last summer.

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Lagos Govt to demand COVID-19 vaccination cards at parties, social events

The Lagos State government has issued directives to attendees of parties and other social events in the state to present their COVID-19 vaccination card before having access.

The state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu released new COVID-19 guidelines for social events and gatherings in the festive season, disclosing that all social events in the state must be duly registered to obtain an event safety clearance from the Lagos State Safety Commission website.

The governor, who said this on Tuesday in a press statement by the Commissioner for Information, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, said that every attendee of a social gathering must now present their evidence of vaccination.

He said, “Where possible events should be held in an outdoor space. Occupancy limit at any event must not exceed 60 per cent of maximum design capacity of the commission.

“Every attendee of a social gathering must present their vaccination cards or digital bar code page, showing at least first dose but preferably double dose full vaccination. In unvaccinated people, a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction within 72 hours will be an exemption.

“Everybody irrespective of vaccination status must be subject to Rapid Diagnostic test (antigen) to be conducted at the event venue within 24 hours prior to the event at the laboratories listed below. (Request for rapid tests at the venue requires an application through the LSSC).

“Under 18 years of age are unvaccinated and the above applies. Guests and service providers with high temperature (above 37.5) are to be politely turned back and referred to paramedics or the emergency response team on ground.”

Sanwo-Olu added that all-inbound passengers who refused to adhere to COVID-19 protocols would be prosecuted.

“While it is a stringent requirement that all inbound passengers perform a day two test within 48 hours of arrival into the country; and an additional day seven PCR test for all partially or unvaccinated inbound passengers, we cannot stress enough how important the strict adherence to these protocols are.

“These tests are mandatory to assist the state monitor the inflow of positive passengers, which we have identified as a veritable source of our waves and community spread.

“Based on this, we will commence the prosecution of those who refuse to submit themselves for these mandatory tests by blacklisting their passports for a period of one year. This would be carried out in partnership with the Presidential Steering Committee.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has also declared that visitors and guests without proof of vaccination would be barred from its buildings as a tougher measure to curb the spread of the virus.

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FG bars unvaccinated visitors from offices

The Federal Government has gotten tougher with implementing COVID-19 vaccination directives by extending it to visitors to of Ministries, departments and Agencies of the government in Abuja.

Recall FELLOW PRESS reported that December 1 was set as deadline for Federal staffs to be vaccinated, the enforcement now extends to visitors.

The Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, had in October said civil servants without proof of vaccination and negative coronavirus tests would not be allowed to enter their offices as from December 1, 2021. On Wednesday last week, security agents started barring unvaccinated civil servants from government buildings.

On Tuesday, the Federal Government went a step further in enforcing its compulsory vaccination order when it stopped contractors, journalists and other regular visitors from entering various ministries in the Federal Capital Territory. Responding to a question on whether the restriction of unvaccinated workers ought to be extended to journalists and others, the Head of Technical Secretariat, Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Mukhtar Muhammad, simply said, “it is not out of order.”

With over 10 federal ministries located in the Federal Secretariat complex and the Office of the Civil Service of the Federation.

The ministries located at the secretariat include The Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Information and Culture, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Special Duties, the Ministry of Aviation, the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Police Affairs and the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

Also affected were agencies at the Federal Capital Development Authority, including the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.


MTN directs mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for employees

MTN Group has announced plans to implement a mandatory vaccination policy for all its staff from January 2022.

MTN Group President and Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ralph Mupita, said this in a statement on Monday in Lagos.

Mupita said that the move was part of MTN’s commitment to protect the health and safety of staff and workplaces.

“The science is clear. Vaccination against COVID-19 reduces the rate of serious infections, hospitalisation, and death.

“As an employer, we have a responsibility to ensure that our workplaces are guided by the highest standards of health and safety, and that has informed our decision to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for our staff.

“Our new COVID-19 policy recognises that some of our markets don’t have adequate access to vaccines.

“It also recognises some low-risk roles that will be accommodated with full-time work-from-home or alternate arrangements, but this will be a small population within our workforce,” he said.

Mupita said that both the World Health Organisation and the Africa Centres for Disease Control advocate vaccines as an important measure to protect people.

“Vaccine equity continues to be a major issue for African countries.

“As MTN, we add our voice to the calls for more vaccines to be made available to African countries, as herd immunity will only happen when the whole globe has reached a sufficient level of COVID-19 vaccination,” Mupita said.

He said that the latest travel bans on African countries by developed nations were not based on science, unjust and add to the lack of support for Africa that was much needed for an effective global response to the pandemic.

Mupita said that African countries were being punished for the transparency that was actually needed to successfully combat the impact of COVID-19 virus on the lives and livelihoods of the people.

“The latest data shows that across the continent, only seven per cent of Africans have been fully vaccinated.

“This compares with a global population vaccination rate of 55 per cent. The fight against COVID-19 needs a global, comprehensive and equitable allocation of vaccines,” he added.

Mupita said MTN Group’s new vaccine policy was a measure to meet MTN’s legal obligations in regard to providing a safe workplace.

He added that the policy would be subject to risk assessment and local laws that apply to the MTN Group, operating companies and subsidiaries.

MTN said that it also recognised the right of employees to apply to be exempted from the policy and/or refuse vaccination on certain clearly defined grounds.

Mupita said that MTN would not be obliged to continue the employment or contract of staff members who are not exempted from vaccinations either through risk assessment or agreed exclusions but still refuse vaccination.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the new mandatory vaccination policy follows the Group’s 25 million dollars donation to the African Union’s COVID-19 vaccination programme.

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FG reveals only 3 percent Nigerians vaccinated against COVID-19

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said barely three per cent of Nigeria’s population has been vaccinated against COVID-19 largely due to poor access to the vaccine by developing countries.

Speaking on Sunday, December 5, in Madrid, Spain at the 24th General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Lai warned that lack of vaccination by developing countries would provide a fertile ground for the virus to mutate and thus threaten the progress already recorded in developed countries.

He said most developed countries had already vaccinated 60 per cent and above of their population, most developing countries were below five per cent.

Mohammed noted that many developed countries had used the advantage of their enormous resources or relationship to sign agreements with manufacturers to supply their countries with vaccines ahead of making them available for use by other countries.

“Even before the clinical trials were completed, millions of doses of the most promising vaccines have been bought by Britain, U S, Japan and the European bloc countries. Some of these countries bought doses five times the size of their population.

“There are fears that these unilateral deals will deprive the poorest countries of access to these life-saving commodities,” he said.

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FG insists on December 1 deadline for workers to get COVID-19 vaccine

The Federal Government has insisted that federal civil servants without COVID-19 vaccination will not be allowed access to workplace from December 1.

FELLOW PRESS Recall that the chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, had announced that effective December 1, 2021, unvaccinated Federal Government workers won’t be allowed access into any public offices, as part of measures to contain the spread of the pandemic.

While speaking during the COVID-19 vaccination update on Monday, November 23, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, observed that the COVID19 vaccine mandate has become a global phenomenon and Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind in the fight against the pandemic.

“There’s a deadline already set and we are hoping that it will encourage those civil servants who love their jobs and are yet to take the COVID-19 vaccine to take the jab for their own good. The reason is that there’s evidence that supports the fact that if you are fully vaccinated, the effect of COVID-19 won’t be much on you. But that is not the same with unvaccinated people. There are higher chances of survival if a fully vaccinated person comes down with COVID-19.

However, those who have not taken the vaccine are a threat to the safety of other people who have been fully vaccinated and possibly share same public places with them by virtue of being colleagues. There’s a higher risk of them infecting other people, and that’s what we want to avoid. In addition to that, we want to secure the health of others who share the same public spaces.

Evidently, most countries now insist on presenting evidence of full vaccination before someone is being allowed into public places.”Ehanire said


COVID-19: Fintiri urges corps members to get vaccinated

Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa has urged corps members deployed to the state to be vaccinated against Coronavirus (COVID-19), to stem spread of the pandemic.

Fintiri made the call on Tuesday at the swearing-in ceremony of the 2021 Batch ‘C’ Stream 1 corps members at the Damare Orientation Camp, Gerei Local Government Area of the state.

The governor, represented by Mr Aloysius Babadoke, Commissioner for Youths, said the state government and relevant stakeholders would deploy vaccination teams to the camp.

“Please take advantage of this opportunity and get yourselves vaccinated if you have not done that.

“Also take advantage of being in the camp by participating in all activities,” he said.

While calling on the corps members to accept their posting to the state in good faith, Fintiri advised them to be security conscious.

“Therefore, as the Chief Security Officer of the state, I assure you that, you will only be posted to where we are sure of your safety.”

In his remarks, Mr Ibrahim Tukur, the Coordinator of the scheme, charged corps members to actively participate in all camp activities.

Tukur stressed the need for the corps members to take advantage of the skills training programme under its Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED), to enable them to learn trades and become self-reliant.

He further admonished the corps members to shun cultism, drug abuse and social vices.

“I urged you to use the social media only for the promotion of unity and other positive purposes rather than rumour peddling and the promotion of hatred,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 1,273 corps members has been sworn-in for the one-year national service.

The corps members comprised 395 females and 878 males.


We can’t continue to depend on other countries for vaccine — Fashola

Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Works and Housing, says the country cannot continue to depend on other nations for vaccines during outbreak of pandemic.

Fashola, who is the Chairman of the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) Foundation, made this assertion virtually during a news conference organised by the foundation on Tuesday in Lagos.

He noted that there was need to develop human capacity in medical research to proffer solution to existing diseases of public health concern and other eventual pandemic like COVID-19.

The former governor of Lagos State said the NIMR Foundation, a non-profit organisation, was initiated to raise and mobilise funds to promote medical research work that would be of benefit to Nigerians.

Fashola said: “We cannot continue as a nation to depend on other nations of the world for vaccine during outbreak of pandemic.

“NIMR was founded in 1977 with the vision to lead medical research, while her contemporary in the U.S, Uk, India and other parts of the world are undertaking groundbreaking, farsighted development via research work in biosciences and biotechnology.

“NIMR has been limited due to funds, but it might surprise you that NIMR has demonstrated clearly to come up with research works despite this challenge in the areas of diagnostic kits for COVID-19, sickle cell, therapies and remedies that are life changing.”

According to him, the target of the foundation is to raise N10 billion to kick-start the programme that will be channeled into critical areas of research.

Speaking also, the 14th Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi, and also a member of the NIMR Foundation Board of Trustees, said it was time for the country to have that sense of urgency to improve access to education and healthcare.

Sanusi added that the foundation had engaged the service of UTL Trust Management Ltd., a leading asset management company, to handle funds that would be raised for critical areas of research

“For us to appreciate what is going on here, we have to look beyond statistics and look at the number of human behind most of this statistics of people dying or suffering from diseases that are peculiar to people in this part of the world.

“Some of these deaths are avoidable if we have the right mechanism in place to address them, that is why an advisory board is already in place to provide direction on the research work that will be embarked on.

“The foundation will also publish its reports on a yearly basis in line with global best practice,” he said.

Another member of the Board of Trustees, Prof. Oye Gureje, in his speech, noted that there was need for the NIMR and the scientific community in the country to be nimble in its approach to research.

Gureje said that nimbleness would give researchers the ability to refocus attention and deploy previous scientific capacity and capability to proffer solution to new health challenges, such that is visible in the developed countries.

“A feature that every research organisation must have is nimbleness.

” Three years ago, nobody ever imagined that something like COVID-19 will come up, even in the advanced research world, nobody has it on their priority list.

“But nevertheless, we can see what have happen in the last 18months and this is due to the refocusing of major research organisation in the world, an unprecedented development of vaccine was achieved.

“This was made possible because these organisation are nimble and one of the ways to achieve this is to build capacity for health research in the country,” he said.

Gureje, the Nigeria Director of World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Mental Health, Neurosciences in the University of Ibadan, said most of the research work by the foundation would focus on diseases that are peculiar to Nigerians.

He said they are non-communicable diseases, sickle cell, neglected tropical diseases among others.

Speaking earlier, Prof. Babatunde Salako, Director-General of NIMR, said the foundation was initiated to address some of the challenges hindering researchers from carrying out ground-breaking research work to tackle some of the health treats to Nigerians.

He said: “Nigeria, although Africa’s largest economy with potentially the highest concentration of medical schools and universities on the continent, faces some of the worst public health challenges including the highest global burden of malaria.

“Others are high burden of HIV, tuberculosis and emerging infections such as Lassa Fever, recurrent outbreaks of cholera, meningitis and yellow fever and increasing levels of non-communicable diseases.

“This disconnect has been attributed largely to the insufficient number of world class researchers and scientists to conduct research that inform policy and development of vaccines, medicines and technologies to address the nation’s healthcare needs.

“Presently in the country, promising junior, mid-level and well-trained senior researchers are often brain drained out of the country because of lack of research funds to enable them conduct high quality research in country.”

Salako noted that there was an urgent need to reverse the challenge through a sustained funding mechanism over the next decade that would systematically train critical mass of researchers to become global leaders.

“Empowering our researchers will help them to come up with also high-quality, cutting-edge research and develop home grown solutions to our health system challenges.

“More importantly, the institute should be driving partnerships with the private sector to translate findings of research into products and evidence for improving and strengthening our health systems,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that other members of the NIMR Foundation board of trustees include, Prof. Oni Idigbe, former D-G of NIMR, Dr Olajide Sobande and Mrs Moji Makanjuola a veteran broadcaster.

NAN also reports that the foundation was established in February 2020.

World News

Brazilian president Bolsonaro denied entry to a soccer match in his country because he’s not vaccinated

Brazilian president Bolsonaro
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has claimed he was not allowed to attend a league match between Santos and Gremio because the home club did not allow unvaccinated supporters into their stadium.

The Sunday soccer match was Santos’ first with supporters present since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the club insisted it would only permit entry of vaccinated people or those who had a negative PCR test.

“I wanted to watch the Santos game now and they told me you have to be vaccinated,” Bolsonaro said in a video posted on the website of the Metropoles news portal. “Why?”

Bolsonaro, who has refused to get vaccinated and encouraged others to follow his lead, claimed he had antibodies because he had already contracted COVID-19.

“I have more antibodies than whoever took the vaccines.”

A spokesman for Santos said the club had not been approached by the president’s team and that all fans must follow the country’s sanitary regulations.

The Brazilian President is one of the most high-profile world leaders to publicly claim he has not been vaccinated.


NAFDAC approves use of Pfizer-BionTech COVID-19 vaccines

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has approved Pfizer-BionTech COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use in Nigeria.

The approval was announced on Friday by the Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye in Lagos State.

The DG said the vaccines were approved only for emergency use in the country.

She noted that it can be stored between -15oC to -25oC equivalent to freezer temperature.


‘Getting Tested Is No Longer Free, I Had To Use Herbs’ – COVID-19 Survivors Cautions Nigerians On Second Wave

“Getting tested despite my obvious symptoms was very difficult. It was as though the testing equipment were being hoarded just as they did with the palliative.

“It was no longer free. And I didn’t have the amount demanded by the laboratories I went to.

“After calling the state helpline, I did not get a response and I needed the results presented at the office to obtain a sick leave…”, Yetunde, a COVID-19 survivor narrates her experience in an exclusive interview with Information Nigeria.

The novel coronavirus first hit Nigeria in February 2020, with the first case being that of an Italian citizen who traveled back to Nigeria from Milan, Italy on the 25th.

According to the official report issued by the Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control (NCDC), the index patient was quarantined at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos after displaying mild symptoms upon confirmation of the diagnosis on the 27th.

The Federal Ministry of Health immediately swung into action as a public message was passed to Nigerians stating that precautionary measures be adhered to in order to contain the spread of the virus. These include frequent washing of hands in the absence of hand sanitizers, wearing a face mask in public, and observing physical/social distancing.

In response to COVID-19, governments around the world, including Nigeria, adopted lockdown measures to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. As expected, these measures were generally unfavourable to businesses and livelihoods. Nigeria is yet to recover from the blows to its already faltering and largely informal economy.

Second Wave

The end of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic coincided with the mass #EndSARS protests in major cities – including Lagos and Abuja – across the country. This period saw Nigerians troop out in large numbers to protest against police brutality without fear of the virus. And, despite the government’s warnings and pleas that the large gatherings at protest grounds would result in mass infections, the protests continued with an apparently greater aim on the minds of the protesters – an end to the injustice meted out by inhumane officers meant to protect lives and property.

Shortly after the protests came to an end, many Nigerians returned to their daily activities with sober minds considering the destruction that characterized the last phases of the demonstrations. The immediate concern at the time was no longer containing the spread of the virus but finding succour for the loss of lives and property.

Hence, citizens threw caution to the winds and relaxed on adhering to the preventive measures as they went about without nose masks in public. Physical distancing soon became a thing of the past as public transport vehicles could be seen carrying above the stipulated number of passengers. Frequent handwashing also stopped.

This continued until the number of positive cases began to increase exponentially and health care workers were left with no choice but to raise alarm and resume the awareness both offline and online. They also made a shocking revelation: the virus is not just being spread at a faster rate during the second-wave but it is also killing infected persons at a much quicker rate.

A survivor who did not believe in the existence of the virus until she experienced the harrowing symptoms revealed that it was an experience she does not wish upon anyone else, not even her enemies.

She simply identified herself as Yetunde and went on to explain the difficulty in accessing test kits despite her frequent trips to the nearest private medical centre.

According to her, “getting tested despite my obvious symptoms was very difficult. It was as though the testing equipment were being hoarded just as they did with the palliative.

“It was no longer free. And I didn’t have the amount demanded by the laboratories I went to.

“After calling the state helpline, I did not get a response and I needed the results presented at the office to obtain a sick leave.”

“I had to use the herbs at my disposal. My mum was of great help to me. She gave me local herbs to drink – I can’t even remember what she called them. I also tried to stay away from the AC despite my love for being in a cold environment.

“It was hard to breathe or even eat because I couldn’t taste anything. I thought I was going to die. My fears also increased when I heard that the oxygen ventilators were not enough to go round for all patients.”

She finally advised Nigerians to stay away from crowded areas. “Don’t go out if it is not absolutely necessary. If you must, wear a mask, please! COVID-19 is real. Don’t play with your life. The second wave is here and it is dangerous.”

Shortage of Oxygen Plants

Popular online doctor, Dr Funmilayo, raised an alarm about the dangers of the second wave of the pandemic.

He wrote on his Twitter page: “Yesterday 23 people died in Nigeria from Covid-19. That’s the highest we had since 2020. On June 16 2020, we had 21 deaths and yesterday is the first time after 7 months we broke that 24 hour death record. The second wave is officially here. Don’t downplay this virus. I beg you.”

His tweet is in light of the public opinion that the virus is not real. However, the blatant flouting of COVID-19 preventive measures by many Nigerians indicates that although they are aware of the virus, they do not care due to the circulating claims of herd immunity.

However, the increasing numbers and higher mortality rate that do not seem to scare the general public is a source of worry for health care workers who are privy to the dangers of the second wave. A health care worker who pleaded anonymity said there is a shortage of oxygen at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). She said:

“Lagos is in trouble now. The spike in cases is overwhelming the system. The B blocks closed in LUTH after the first wave, has now been reopened.

“Do you know that they are now full of COVID-19 patients struggling for their lives?

“Oxygen is now in short supply. Provision of oxygen to the patients is critical to staying alive.

“As I’m speaking to you right now, all non-emergencies in LUTH have been suspended and all resources are channelled to COVID-19 care”, she added.

Another COVID-19 survivor who shared her horrendous experience with Information Nigeria said she didn’t know she had the virus and thought it was just malaria.

“I was at work when I started feeling very feverish. It felt unusual because I’m an AC freak and the temperature wasn’t cold enough for me to be feeling feverish. It continued even after I turned off the AC.

“Then, I began to feel extremely weak and had no other choice than to go home. I took a malaria drug for that day. The whole thing died down and I became better.”

She continued: “Three, four days later I noticed I lost my smell and I couldn’t taste. I was also always out of breath. My mum made me believe it was the side effect of the malaria drug I took.

“I believed her not until my friend who is a doctor said it’s obvious I had Covid-19. The mere thought of not being able to smell drove me nuts. I couldn’t climb the stairs without being out of breath.”

Asked if she self-isolated during the period, she said: “I didn’t stay at home throughout. My boss didn’t want to believe I had Covid. I wasn’t coughing and sneezing – at least not too often.

“I didn’t go to the hospital. But I went to the pharmacy, and I was given a very strong Typhoid drug which I had to take for just one day. I spent N13,000 on malaria and typhoid drugs.”

“COVID-19 is real! I have a friend who about 30 of his colleagues tested positive for COVID. I also have another friend who is presently battling for her life – breathing is really a big problem for her. COVID-19 is real; the second wave is more real and dangerous.”

It has also been reported that the second wave presents more dangers for Nigerians because of the new variant discovered. This more dangerous and deadly variant was found in two patient samples collected on the 3rd of August and on the 9th of October in Osun state, says a working research paper seen by The Associated Press.

With over a hundred thousand overall cases in Nigeria and over 20,000 new cases between January 4 and 17 alone, the second wave indeed calls for more attention and caution.

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Russia becomes first country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, says Putin

President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia had become the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, a move hailed by Moscow as evidence of its scientific prowess.

The development paves the way for the mass inoculation of the Russian population, even as the final stage of clinical trials to test safety and efficacy continue.

The speed at which Russia is moving to roll out its vaccine highlights its determination to win the global race for an effective product, but has stirred concerns that it may be putting national prestige before sound science and safety.

Speaking at a government meeting on state television, Putin said the vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, was safe and that it had even been administered to one of his daughters.

“I know that it works quite effectively, forms strong immunity, and I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks,” said Putin.

He said he hoped the country would soon start mass producing the vaccine.

Its approval by the health ministry foreshadows the start of a larger trial involving thousands of participants, commonly known as a Phase III trial.

Such trials, which require a certain rate of participants catching the virus to observe the vaccine’s effect, are normally considered essential precursors for a vaccine to receive regulatory approval.

Regulators around the world have insisted that the rush to develop COVID-19 vaccines will not compromise safety.

But recent surveys show growing public distrust in governments’ efforts to rapidly produce such a vaccine.

Russian health workers treating COVID-19 patients will be offered the chance of volunteering to be vaccinated soon after the vaccine’s approval, a source told Reuters last month.

More than 100 possible vaccines are being developed around the world to try to stop the COVID-19 pandemic.

At least four are in final Phase III human trials, according to WHO data.

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COVID-19 vaccine possibly achieved by mid-2021 — WHO

Widespread coronavirus vaccination could begin in the middle of next year, the chief scientist of the World Health Organisation, Soumya Swaminathan said.

She expressed cautious optimism about the state of the research and development process in an interview with dpa.

“We have now over 20 candidates in clinical studies.

“So we are hopeful that a couple of them will work. It would be very unlucky if all of them fail,” Swaminathan added.

“So if we are very practical, then we are looking at the middle of 2021 when we will have a vaccine that can be widely deployed,” she said, adding: “Of course it’s impossible to predict.”

Swaminathan said the global race to develop a vaccine had been “the fastest timeline we have ever seen,” noting that there were only three months between the time the virus’ genetic sequence was published in January and the time the first trial began.

The novel coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, China, late last year.

It has since spread to almost every corner of the globe, killing more than 600,000 people and infecting more than 14 million.

The U.S. leads the world in confirmed cases.

The pandemic’s epicentre has shifted from China to Europe, to the Americas, leading to lockdowns and tough restrictions on public life and travel.

Some places where the virus was brought under control are seeing an uptick in cases, fanning fears of a second wave of infections and a new round of restrictions. (dpa/NAN)


CBN to fund research on Nigerian Coronavirus vaccine

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele has disclosed that the apex bank will be funding a research for a Nigerian Coronavirus vaccine.

The CBN Governor disclosed this at the unveiling of THISDAY Dome testing, tracing, and treatment centre on Tuesday in Abuja. He said they are currently designing a framework which includes grants and long term facilities for “researchers, science institutions and biotechnology firms to develop the Nigerian Vaccine.”

Emefiele also revealed that the CBN recently launched a N100bn healthcare intervention fund and several initiatives such as the provision of one trillion naira facility for firms operating in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, to cushion the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The CBN Governor said;

“Needless to state that if we are to wait for foreign countries to develop their own vaccines, we will be the last in the queue to receive curative remedies for our teeming population.

“Practitioners in the Pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors will be able to access finance at a single-digit rate through this fund.

“We are also working with financial institutions to enable the continuous flow of credit to viable businesses while putting in place provisions such as moratoriums and restructuring of existing loans under CBN intervention funds, that have been provided to businesses.”

Press Release

Lawmakers warned on dangers of forced vaccination bill

…Says It’s Time National Assembly Members Got a Dose of the People’s Wrath

The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has strongly lashed out at Nigerian legislators who it accused of working to impose a forced vaccination law on the country, warning that “it’s about time for the National Assembly got a dose of the Nigerian people’s wrath”.

The CNPP in a statement issued by its Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, accused the lawmakers of hiding under the lockdown measures to engage in impunity.

The umbrella body of all registered political parties and political associations in country also accused Nigerian legislators of taking bribe from vaccine producers.

“We have watched with uttermost dismay the speed with which the lawmakers are working on a bill to use Nigerians as guinea pigs for the forced testing of Coronavirus disease vaccines and endanger the lives of over 200 million citizens.

“If the lawmakers want to truly justify the bribe they have taken from foreign producers of COVID-19 vaccines, they should make a law that will provide for compulsory vaccination of all the legislators in the country as a way of proving their patriotism to the Nigerian federation. Let them volunteer to be the guinea pigs.

Read also: COVID-19: CAN kicks as House of Reps pass bill for compulsory vaccination

“It is even more shocking that the Nigerian legislators have not thought of a law to force electricity distribution companies in the country to compulsorily install prepaid meters in households across the country but can force citizens to be vaccinated.

“We recall that Bill for the unbundling of the NNPC, the cash cow of the nation and Bill to end gas flaring in the country are there laying fallow in the achieves of history, yet, because of insatiable appetite for wealth propelled by uncommon greed for mundane things of life, the lawmakers want to turn Nigerian citizens into testing animals for vaccines producers now and in the future.

“Why is the lawmakers opting to work against the interest of those who elected them? Why will Nigerian legislators chose to fulfill the desires of those who cultured and infected the world with Coronavirus disease for economic gains? Are the national assembly members telling us that they are not aware that COVID-19 virus ravaging the world is not natural?

“Why not a Bill for an Act to compel Federal Government of Nigeria to fund research for local production of infectious disease drugs and vaccines? Are we lacking experts in any field as a country?

“Many Nigerians have long claimed to have developed cure for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, where are the inputs of the National Assembly members towards ensuring that every Nigerian with a claim to a cure of any infectious disease gets his or her claims verified by relevant authorities and certified rather than selling the country wholesale to western nation and their multi-million dollar corporations? They won’t because such local inventors cannot afford millions of US dollars with which to grease the filthy palms of most lawmakers.

“The Republic of Madagascar recently dared the World Health Organization (WHO) and their collaborators by developing locally made COVID Organics (CVO) for cure of Coronavirus. Right now, the use is expanding to other countries after Madagascar had only 149 cases of COVID-19 with zero death record.

“In addition to the COVID Organics (CVO), already being marketed in the form of herbal tea in Madagascar, a new injectable solution of the same product is under clinical trials in the lying off the country southeastern coast of Africa with a population of just 27 million people.

“It then beats the imagination of any sane person that the Nigerian legislators will be this greedy for material acquisition, even at the expense of the Nigerian people who elected them.

“All Nigerians, the media, and all civil society organisations with good conscience should immediately stand up against this evil legislation in the works because everyone will become their guinea pigs and a tool for testing vaccines for deadly all ailments, now and forever if the bill is passed.

“May be Nigerians have forgotten so soon how a secret trial of a pharmaceutical drug in Northern Nigeria killed several children. The company involved, Pfizer, was sued after 11 children died in the clinical trial when the northern state of Kano was hit by meningitis epidemic in 1996. But Pfizer only paid compensation after 15-year legal battle for illegal clinical trials.

“The intolerable Bill for an Act by the Nigerian legislators to make such killing of citizens a legal act must be resisted now or we will all die in like manner someday soon”, the CNPP warned.

Breaking news

US will have a COVID-19 vaccine ‘by the end of the year’ – Trump

US President Donald Trump, has expressed optimism that there would be a Coronavirus vaccine by the end of 2020.

Trump speaking to Fox News hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum inside the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, said the Coronavirus vaccine will come in 2020 while heaping praise on people willing to volunteer for clinical trials of the vaccine.

‘We think we’ll have a vaccine by the end of this year. And we’re pushing very hard. We’re building supply lines now and we don’t even have the final vaccine,’ Trump said.

He pointed to Johnson & Johnson as one of such companies.

‘Many companies, I think, are close,’ he told the Fox News.

When asked if his hopes of an American company producing the vaccine first didn’t sound like his usual ‘America First’ rhetoric, and how he would feel if another country developed a successful vaccine first,

Trump answered, ‘I don’t care,’
‘I really just want to get a vaccine that works,’I really don’t care. If it’s another country, I’ll take my hat off to them. We have to come up with a vaccine.’ the president said.

When asked if he was worried about people volunteering for vaccine trials, Trump replied;

‘No, because they’re volunteers,’ Trump said.
‘They know what they’re getting into,’ he added, calling those who sign up ‘good people.’

Trump also said he’ll like to see therapeutics, too, that would work to cure patients who have COVID-19.

‘I would rather have therapeutics, something to make people better, not a cure, at least a therapeutic,’ Trump said.

According to Trump the U.S. is working alongside Australia and the United Kingdom to develop a vaccine and said Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who became extremely ill from COVID-19 though he was going to die.

‘He thought it was over, it was vicious,’ Trump added.


Covid-19: Human trials for new vaccine to start Thursday – UK Govt

The UK Government has announced that a new Coronavirus vaccine being developed in the UK will be put to test this week as human trials could begin as early as Thursday.

The announcement comes as the Coronavirus death toll topped 17,000 in the UK, even though the actual number of fatalities across the UK will be higher as only deaths in UK hospitals are accounted for.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaking from Downing street on Wednesday said the vaccine was being developed at the University of Oxford and vowed: “We will throw everything we’ve got at developing a vaccine.”

“At the same time we’ll invest in manufacturing capability so if either of these vaccines safely works then we can make it available for the British people as soon as humanely possible.” he said.

             Coronavirus: Human trials for new vaccine to start Thursday - UK Government announces

However, he cautioned that “nothing about this process is certain”.

On the trial beginning, he said: “In normal times, reaching this stage would take years and I’m very proud of the work taken so far.

“The upside of being the first country in the world to develop a successful vaccine is so huge that I am throwing everything at it.”

Discussing conversations the UK government is having with leading scientists on a vaccine he said: “We are going to back them to the hilt.”

He added that work is being done so that a vaccine, if it is found, can be rolled out to the public “as soon as humanly possible” as that is the only way lockdowns and restrictions can be permanetly lifted and people resume their normal lives.


Covid-19 vaccine launch revealed by European Commission

European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen has said that a vaccine against Coronavirus (COVID-19) could be ready by the end of this year.

She said two of the most promising research teams are based in Europe.

Von der Leyen told the German Sunday newspaper, Bild am Sonntag that, “I hope they develop a vaccine towards the end of the year,” the EU politician asserted, noting that there are plans to start clinical tests soon.

The newspaper reported that for a swift vaccination campaign, the EU was already talking to manufacturers about global production capacities, von der Leyen added.

Ursula said she believes that schools and daycare centres could re-open earlier, “Children and adolescents will have more freedom of movement sooner than old people and people with previous illnesses.”

Meanwhile, the global death toll from Coronavirus has surpassed 100,000.

The figure which was released by Johns Hopkins University, said there are nearly 1.7 million cases with more than 370,000 recoveries.