March 1, 2022

2 years on, Nigeria not on track to attain COVID-19 Herd Immunity

2 years on, Nigeria not on track to attain COVID-19 Herd Immunity

By Sola Ogundipe & Chioma Obinna

From the onset of the  COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organisation, WHO has sounded a note of warning that achieving herd immunity remains a master key to stopping the spread of the virus.

Unfortunately, one year into the ongoing vaccination drive across the world, Nigeria is yet to make significant progress in ensuring that at least, 70 per cent of its eligible citizens are fully vaccinated.

Good Health Weekly x-rays COVID-29 response in Nigeria so far.  Precisely the 27th of February 2022 marked two years of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, sadly the country is off-track to meet the 140 million persons (70 per cent) vaccination coverage target of June 2022 set for all countries by the World Health Organisation, WHO.

According to the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NHPCDA, as of 27th of February, 2022,  8,136,554 of total eligible Nigerians targeted for COVID-19 vaccination had been fully vaccinated with thetwo doses while a total of 131, 863,446 were yet to be vaccinated.

The  Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, COVID-19 Microsite, as of 27th February, 2022, stated that Nigeria recorded a total of 254,525 confirmed cases with 3142 deaths from 4,442,864 samples tested so far.

But findings by Good Health Weekly, show that although, the country learnt major lessons in its bid to strengthen the country’s health systems to cope with other infectious diseases and future health emergencies, it has failed to keep up with the global target of achieving herd immunity.

According to medical experts, ‘Herd immunity, also known as ‘population immunity’, is the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through the previous infection.From the data, Nigeria is on the verge of not meeting its plan to vaccinate 70 per cent of the population by the end of 2022.

During the kick off of vaccination in Nigeria, the Federal government had set a target of vaccinating 40 per cent of the eligible population with two doses by 31st December 2021, which is equivalent to 80 million persons.

It also set a deadline to vaccinate another 30 per cent bringing it to a total of 70 per cent by 31st March 2022.  With development so far, it has vaccinated 3.8 per cent and the number that have at least received one dose is 8.4 per cent.

According to data from Our World In Data, 10.73 billion doses have been administered as of 28th February 2022 while about 23 million doses are administered daily.  Nigeria administered 26.5 million doses as of the 27th of February, 2022.

From the data obtained, Nigeria is currently administering about 194,406 doses of vaccines daily.The World Health Organisation, WHO, has continued to encourage countries including Nigeria to work towards achieving ‘herd immunity’ through vaccination, and not by allowing disease to spread through any segment of the population, as this would result in unnecessary cases and deaths.

In a report, the global health body noted that vaccines train individuals’ immune systems to create proteins that fight disease, known as ‘antibodies’, just as would happen when they are exposed to a disease but crucially vaccines work without making them sick.WHO maintained that vaccinated people are protected from getting the disease in question and passing on the pathogen, breaking any chains of transmission.

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The health body in the report maintained that to safely achieve herd immunity against COVID-19, a substantial proportion of a population would need to be vaccinated, lowering the overall amount of virus able to spread in the whole population.

“One of the aims with working towards herd immunity is to keep vulnerable groups who cannot get vaccinated (e.g. due to health conditions like allergic reactions to the vaccine) safe and protected from the disease.”

In the views of WHO’s Chief Scientist, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, achieving herd immunity with safe and effective vaccines makes diseases rarer and saves lives.

Attempts to reach herd immunity through exposing people to a virus are scientifically problematic and unethical. Letting COVID-19 spread through populations, of any age or health status will lead to unnecessary infections, suffering and death.

Vanguard News Nigeria