Nigeria should produce vaccines not depend on developed countries — OKONJO – IWEALA

NCDC confirms 10 Delta variant cases

By Sola Ogundipe, Chioma Obinna & Gabriel Olawale

The federal government on Monday announced that the country is expecting a total of 33.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines as part of its effort to help Nigerians attained herd immunity and ensure sufficiency within the country.

But the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, WTO, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, argued that Nigeria should be producing COVID-19 vaccines rather than relying on developed countries.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire who disclosed the development during a virtual press briefing in Abuja, said the government through the African Union AVATT facility has purchased 29 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

“We are also expecting over four million Moderna and almost 700,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses through the COVAX facility from bilateral donations from the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom; as well as Pfizer and Sinopharm from both bilateral agreements and through the COVAX facility.

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“Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is a one-dose vaccine, will be advantageous for our context with weak Civil Registration Vital Statistics (CRVS) and a nomadic population. We expect to take delivery of these vaccines within this 3rd quarter with the Johnson & Johnson expected this August.

He hinted that the country is recording increasing treatment bed occupancy across the country given the established emergence of a third wave.

“In preparation, Federal Ministry of Health has taken steps to urgently scale-up and enhance local oxygen capacity even before oxygen consumption increases. Nigeria has invested directly and strategically to ensuring oxygen availability to avert unforeseen incidence of oxygen insufficiency for COVID-19 patients in the country.

“It is also worrisome that despite evidence of the emergence of a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, citizens continue to refuse adherence to public health advisories. The severity of this disease should not be disregarded as it is still a primary cause of concern, even in countries with stronger health systems.”

He disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Health Point of Entry (PoE) pillar of the COVID-91 response has been continuously monitoring passenger arrivals especially from high-risk countries like India, Turkey, and Brazil.

“This process has been an arduous one given that port health staff has continued to report a trend of abscondment by quarantined passengers, an act detrimental to our pandemic response and public health safety.

“Remember that Nigeria is a well-traversed country and is susceptible to further importation of the virus, especially when there is clear evidence that the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has begun across the continent,” he stressed.

Nigeria should produce vaccines, not depend on developed countries — Okonjo-Iweala

Worried by the continued reliance of Africa and Nigeria in particular on developed countries for its COVID-19 vaccines, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, WTO, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has charged Nigeria to up its game in the area of vaccine production.

Okonjo-Iweala, who said Nigeria can develop its own vaccines, and that two Nigerians in the Diaspora have developed vaccines, lamented that the African continent imports 90 percent of its vaccines and pharmaceuticals.

Speaking virtually at this year’s National Diaspora Day celebration themed: “Diaspora Integration for National Peace and Development” put together by Nigeria in Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM, in Abuja, she argued that it is necessary for Africa to create a roadmap to boost its capacity to produce Covid-19 vaccines.

“I am quite worried and that is why we tried to bring these CEOs of the major manufacturing companies from Moderna to Pfizer to AstraZeneca, J&J, the Chinese one and now Russia also. They have told us all the numbers and how they are trying to increase production.

“The vaccine volume is actually increasing. In June, they had 1.1 billion doses more vaccines produced in the world, 45 per cent more than the amount in May.

“That’s the good news. The bad news is that most of those doses ended up in the developed countries and the vaccine inequity continues and that is why we are trying to work with them (vaccine producers) to change the story.”

She said  COVAX has already sent 130 million doses to developing countries but it was supposed to have done about 500 million by now. “What we are trying to do is to say let us not be dependent on other people all the time. We cannot as a continent continue to import 99 percent of our vaccines and 90 percent of our pharmaceuticals. What we are now pushing is for them to develop that industry in Africa.

“And the AU ACDC is working very hard and in our country the minister of health, the CDC have been working very hard to also see that we can attract some of these companies. We can even develop our own vaccines, two Nigerians in the diaspora I hear have developed vaccines which they are experimenting now. So that is the right direction.”

NCDC confirms 10 Delta variant cases

No less than 10 cases of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus have been detected in Nigeria.

Disclosing this yesterday in Abuja, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said most of the cases were detected from samples collected in Lagos and Abuja.

Ihekweazu who was represented by the agency’s Director of Disease Surveillance Department, Dr Elsie Ilori said the national test positivity rate for COVID-19 had increased to 24 percent from previous weeks.

“So far we have identified 10 Delta variant cases in the country. Actually what we do is collect samples from the travelers. Most of the cases are from travellers coming into Lagos and Abuja. Once they come in, we collect samples.

“The symptoms that it possesses are not like what we are used to, so that is why we need to be more careful.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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