At least 28 persons have been identified and quarantined in Ogun State after they came in contact with Nigeria’s first case of coronavirus, according to NobleReporters.
The index case, an Italian, came into Nigeria on Monday aboard Turkish Airlines and went straight to Ewekoro, Ogun State, where he had contact with several Lafarge employees.
The cement factory has allegedly since been shut down and several employees quarantined. An employee of the company, who drove an Italian infected with Coronavirus with an ambulance to Lagos for medical attention, has also been taken in.
A clinic situated inside the cement factory has also been shut down while staff are currently locked inside a room after fears grew that the Italian had been in contact with many persons in Ogun State before being rushed to Lagos for medical help.
NobleReporters learnt how the Italian found his way into Nigeria aboard Turkish Airlines on Monday, February 24, 2020, around 9:40pm.
He is said not to have shown any signs of being infected with the virus at the time of his entry into the country but developed fever and body aches the next day when he visited Lafarge.
He was thereafter taken to the company’s clinic that evening and was placed under observation while the Ogun State Government was notified of his situation.
According to findings, the driver, who drove the Italian to Lagos, was exposed to him for at least five hours and was not isolated or quarantined but allowed to go home.
As a result of this, he was also exposed to several other person and heightened the risk of the virus spreading further.
A source at Lafarge allegedly said that,
“There are so many persons that had been exposed to the index case and if these people are not found and quarantined, we could be in big trouble.”
The Lagos state commissioner of health, Professor Akin Abayomi, has visited the Italian coronavirus patient at the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Yaba, where he is being isolated and treated.
The Commissioner said he spoke with the man and assured him that he would be taken care of.
While there, he took time to inspect the ongoing renovation of the isolation wards. The renovation should be completed in a couple of days.
Gabriel Jesus is ready to play anywhere to help Manchester City win trophies after his role in the Champions League victory over Real Madrid.
The Brazil striker started as a left winger in the 2-1 win at the Santiago Bernebeu as Pep Guardiola made a surprise team selection in the first leg.
Jesus scored the equaliser but also worked hard to double-up as support for Benjamin Mendy at left-back and the 22-year-old was delighted with how the tactics worked out.
“I enjoy the work,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if I have to run back to help my team-mates, I am young, I have the power and energy to do it.
“I enjoy the position a lot because I can go back and help the full-backs. I am very comfortable there but we have a lot of quality players.
“We are very proud of the performance but we know they have a lot of quality, a lot of amazing players. They are a big club and now there will be another game, the second leg.”
“The challenge is coming and it’s the biggest of the season. We know Real can go to the Etihad and beat us,” he said.
“Sunday is important. It’s been a big week because we played Leicester away, a team with a lot of quality, and went seven points in front of them.
“So we’ve had two very good games – and now it’s a final. It’s important to win the first title of the season.”
Big brother naija reality TV star, Thelma Ibemere has taken to her Instagram page to cry out after he gateman allegedly absconded with her money.
According to Thelma who didn’t give much detail about the incident, the gateman accessed her room with a spare key when she went to the fellow reality star, Diane’s birthday.
Thelma alleged that she has done a lot of good things for the gateman and that she doesn’t deserve such “repayment” from him.
Thelma also shared screenshots of the message he sent her saying he is gone for good.
“This life shaa…no matter how nice you try to be to people, they’ll always get back at you. This is stealing!” Thelma wrote as she shared the story…
See Screenshots Below:
Veteran actor, Pete Edochie’s son, Yul has opened up on his stand on men who kneel down to propose marriage to women.
According to Yul, he didn’t kneel to propose to his wife after all.
“I didn’t kneel because I didn’t have to. My wife didn’t ask me to kneel and propose to her. I got married many years ago, 2004 or so. But I will tell you what I think about kneeling to propose.To an extent, my father is right. It is not our culture. It is foreign.
“But it is actually no big deal. It is not that serious. Whether you kneel or lie down to propose, the woman who would leave you, would. The one who won’t respect you, won’t respect you. The one who would love you, respect you and stick with you, will surly do regardless of how you proposed.
“My father is 73 years ago, much respect to him, but you see, he is speaking from his own era. He lives in that time when they don’t need to kneel to propose,” he said.
Recall that last week, a video surfaced online in which Pete Edochie insisted that men who kneel to propose were idiots and foolish.
He said, “Any young man who gets down on his knees to propose to a girl is not just an idiot, he is a bloody fool. The reason I am saying this is simple– we try to copy white people.
“The white man kneels down to propose to a girl. You know what it means? The girl takes over the family. That is why whenever a man disagrees with his wife overseas, he would be kicked out and his wife would take over the house.
“If you call that civilization; it is alright. Kneel down before your wife and I would sympathise with you when she takes over the home.”
One of three suspected armed robbers arrested by the police in the Dambam Local Government Area of Bauchi State, Shehu Abdullahi, has confessed that he was planning to use his share of the proceeds to get married.
Abdullahi, 20, in an interview with Northern City News, while being paraded at the Bauchi State Police Command on Wednesday, said he initially didn’t want to be a part of the gang but his friend convinced him otherwise.
He claimed that it was his first time of participating in such an act before he was arrested by the police.
He said, “I was brought to the police headquarters because of an armed robbery operation that we did. Yes, I am an armed robber, but I have never done it before; this is my first time.
“I was at home when Dan Jauro called me that I should come and join them to go for a robbery, but I told him that I had never done it before. He begged me to just come that they needed people to participate in it. I told him that I was scared, but he encouraged me to just come.
“Before I went there, they had bought everything needed for the robbery. When I got there, they had started bringing out the logs of wood to the road when I got there.
“When we blocked the road, one car came and we stopped it. The driver came out and Dan Jauro dragged one of the women out of the car. We asked all of them to come down and we collected all their handsets and belongings. Some of us opened the boot of the car and took out three boxes and four bags.”
Asked what he was going to do with his share of the money, he said, “Honestly, I wanted to marry and I did not have the money. I wanted to use it to marry.”
The Bauchi State Commissioner of Police, Philip Maku, said the suspects and seven others still at large were behind a robbery whose video went viral.
“The suspects conspired with seven others now at large on February 18, 2020, barricaded the Kano-Maiduguri Highway with heavy logs of wood and attacked a salon vehicle,” he stated.
The CP added that several exhibits were recovered from them, including a Dane gun, a double-barrelled Dane gun, seven sticks, six axes, six machetes, six knives, 10 charms, some fabricated bullets and one ATM card bearing, Godwin Adie, among others.
Mexico’s government said on Friday it had detected three cases of coronavirus infection in three men who had all recently traveled to Italy, making the country the second in Latin America to register the fast-spreading virus.
The first case is a 35-year-old man who showed positive in an initial test in Mexico City also test positive in a second test early on Friday, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell Ramirez told a news conference.
That man was linked to the second case, a 41-year-old in the northern state of Sinaloa, Lopez-Gatell told reporters, speaking alongside President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Health officials confirmed the third case, a man who had traveled with the other two, at another news conference late on Friday but said all three cases were imported and that there was so far no evidence of human-to-human transmission in the country.
President Lopez Obrador urged the population to remain calm.
“We have the capacity to handle this situation,” he said. “Because according to the information available, this is not something terrible, really bad.”
Mexico’s main stock index suffered one of its biggest falls in months, tumbling more than 4% in morning trading, while the peso fell by more than 1% against the dollar.
The three men confirmed with coronavirus were in Italy for about a week in mid-February, and likely became infected at a convention in the northern city of Bergamo, the government said.
All three were being held in isolation, Lopez-Gatell said, and officials are observing five family members in isolation.
The Mexico City resident had light, cold-like symptoms and was at low risk, he added. However, the man in Sinaloa did not show symptoms, Sinaloa’s health minister Efren Encinas said at a separate news conference.
For now, there are no grounds for closing schools or having people stay away from their workplaces, Lopez-Gatell said.
“There’s absolutely no reason at this point,” he added. “There is no generalized transmission.”
Still, Lopez-Gatell recommended that people refrain from light hugs and kisses on the cheek that are commonplace greetings in Mexico. Brazil was the first country in Latin America to report a case of the new coronavirus.
Let’s admit it. Piercings are cute. They look good on anyone sporting them and even more beautiful when adorned with the appropriate jewelry.
Nose piercings, standard ear piercings, upper lobe piercings, and helix piercings are a few examples of the many kinds of piercings that exist.
Commonly, piercings are usually done as a sign of artistic expression, spiritual beliefs, and beauty. A piercing can be made using a sharp object such as pin, and piercing gun, to puncture a hole in the skin.
Asides the face, piercings can be made on other parts of the body such as; the belly button.
But getting a piercing is a big deal and it’s important to be aware of the processes involved in getting pierced as well as what to expect.
for more beauty news and updates
° Why are You Getting a Piercing?
As stupid as it seems, you may want to seriously ask yourself why you are getting a piercing. This is because getting pierced is no small deal.
Piercings mean different things to different people and for you, getting a piercing done might be tied to exploring a new beauty trend, spiritual beliefs, or expressing yourself. However the case might be for you, being in tune with the ‘why’ for going done the piercing route.
Piercings can completely alter your look and people’s perception about you [although this does not matter a bit] hence, having a genuine motive for getting pierced is a great idea.
° Are You Old Enough?
Wahile there are no popular public laws prohibiting piercings in Nigeria, it’s important to know if you’re old enough to get pierced. Generally, the official adult age in Nigeria is 18 so if you’re below this, you may want to rethink your decision to get pierced. Furthermore, should you be under-aged, your parents should be aware of your intent and either accompany you or make arrangements for a trusted older person to accompany you.
In addition to this, should you be above 18, it’s important to consider whether your parents will be receptive to your latest decision.
Do not overlook your parent’s opinion on an important decision such as getting a piercing because you think you’re ‘grown’. You could incur their disapproval or worse, their wrath. Be open-minded to their opinions and if possible, stand your ground while respectfully demanding they respect your decision and see things from your perspective.
° Who’s Getting You Pierced?
Except you want to end up getting a horrible piercing job Ikeja Under Bridge is popular for, take seriously who you let pierce you. You may want to ask around for the authenticity of the piercer. Checking for a piercing parlour’s review online is also a good way to verify their genuineness.
Never rely solely on online or offline bragging of piercer’s as they could hold empty promises. If possible, request that a trusted friend or acquaintance accompany you in searching for the right piercer. After all, you’d want to get your money’s worth for the services rendered.
° Are They Using Sterile Tools?
Most times, body piercers make use of the indisposable tools such as pins and piercing guns for all their customers. This automatically endangers your health since most times, piercings trigger cuts. Bacteria and viruses thrive in these cuts and could lead to the transmission of deadly diseases such as HIV and AIDS.
To avoid getting infected, make sure the person piercing you is making use of sterilized tools. If possible, insist that they sterilize these tools in front of you. In addition, insist the piercer uses gloves when attending to you.
Should you notice a piercer attempting to use unsterilized tools on you, flee for your life!
° Expect the Pain
‘Tortured beauty’, and ‘Il faut souffrir pour être belle’ [translated to mean, ‘beauty is pain’], are popular English and French expressions describing the painful procedures one may have to go through to achieve beauty.
These expressions are true for piercings. A few days or weeks after getting pierced, you experience some pain. Do not be alarmed as this is perfectly normal. However, you should know that people experience various levels of pain when pierced. While person A might feel only a sharp sting which wears off after some hours, Person B might feel pain on or around the pierced area for some days or weeks.
The pierced spot could bleed initially, and may also, secrete yellowish or white fluid, and crust formation. These are normal and commonly occur during the healing process.
° Watch Out For Infection
Poor after-care could cause infection of the pierced area. It’s important to be aware of this.
Infections could be in the form of extreme reddening of the pierced area secreting discoloured pus, itching of pierced area, fever, or the area being too soft to the touch.
Should you notice any of these symptoms, contact your doctor to have the area checked. Also, never attempt to self-administer drugs or research medication procedure off the internet as you could cause more ham than good to the already bad situation.
Nigerians, who had direct contact with the Italian diagnosed with Coronavirus in Lagos and Ogun states have been identified.
This was disclosed by Lafarge Africa Plc on Friday.
The Italian had visited the cement company after his entry into the country last Monday.
NobleReporters had exclusively reported that he was diagnosed of the disease in Ogun State before being rushed to Lagos where he was kept in Isolation.
NobleReporters had also reported that the Italian made contact with many people within and outside the cement factory and at the hospital where he was rushed to for initial treatment.
In a statement on Friday, Lafarge Director of Communications, Folashade Ambrose-Medebem, said that the individuals concerned works for a vendor that provides services to Lafarge Africa Plc in Ogun State.
She said, “We have immediately identified the persons who had direct contact with the concerned individual. We have equally initiated isolation, quarantine and disinfection protocol.
“We thank the exemplary leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health, Ogun and Lagos State governments for swiftly providing response and testing facilities and we are working in full cooperation with all local authorities.”
Popular soap opera star Tomi Odunsi Fadina has just become a new parent
The Tinsel actress shared the news of her newly welcomed baby with her fans and followers on Instagram. Many flooded her comment section with congratulatory messages.
It is a joyful period of celebration for popular Nigerian actress Tomi Odunsi Fadina and her husband Seun, who have just been elevated from the status of couple to new parents.
The actress who is mostly known for her role in popular soap opera Tinsel, recently took to her official page on photo sharing app, Instagram, to share the news that she has just welcomed a new baby.
Tomi accompanied her announcement with a beautiful picture of herself and husband which was captured by celebrity photographer, Busola Dakolo, when she was still heavily pregnant.
Handsome Nigerian singer, Korede Bello, who was born on February 29, has opened up about his feeling as he celebrates his birthday every leap year (once in four years).
In a recent interview with Punch, Korede Bello revealed what that has taught him.”I must confess it does make me feel special. I don’t have to feel like I’m getting older every year (laughs). It is truly special to anticipate something for four years. It teaches one a lot about patience and rewards.
All the birthdays I’ve had have been memorable because I had four years to plan for them,” he said.
On the accusations of being a woman wrapper and his secret romance with Iyabo Ojo’s daughter, Prisca, the ‘Godwin’ crooner said,
“People see me as a womanizer. I don’t even know what that word mean anymore. I guess when one attracts a lot of female attention and love, they call one a womaniser.
“As for my rumoured relationship with Priscilla, she would be in a better position to respond to that (laughs).”
Speaking on wedding bells and his kind of ‘wife material, Korede Bello says,
“Wedding bells are always sounding every Saturday. Perhaps, you have not been paying attention. I even try to put bells in my songs because my name is Bello. If you listen closely to the song, ‘Sun mo Mi’, you would hear wedding bells and hints of a potential wedding.
“As for the qualities I would like in my dream woman, the only quality that truly matters is a strong connection. A connection with God, herself and with me. Every other thing doesn’t really matter. Besides, a dream woman will always be a dream. I want a real woman.”
There is no slowing down for Grammy-nominated Afro-fusion singer, Burna Boy as he has just released a brand new song track titled “Odogwu.”
The hit maker has also officially announced his “Twice as Tall” U.S. tour which is set to kick off on Thursday, May 7, 2020 in Atlanta, GA at the Roxy. This is coming on the heels of recently receiving a Platinum plaque for taking part in UK rapper, Stormzy’s 2019 single, “Own It”, which also features Ed Sheeran.
The “Twice as Tall” tour will continue to Los Angeles, New York, and Miami before wrapping in Dallas, TX on Sunday, June 7th at the Southside Ballroom. He’s also set to appear at a string of festivals including Broccoli City Festival on May 9th in Washington, DC and Roots Picnic on May 30th in Philadelphia, PA.
The “Twice as Tall” tour announcement arrives after his most recent visual for “Secret” from the Grammy-nominated album (Best World Music Album), African Giant.
The album saw incredible critical acclaim at its release and now adorns a galore of ‘best of’ lists – including Pitchfork’s 50 Best Albums of 2019, NPR’s Best Albums of 2019, Billboard’s 50 Best Albums of 2019, Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums of 2019, Complex’s Best Albums of 2019, and many more. African Giant was also named Apple Music’s Up Next Artist for the month of July.
The world can be a cruel, cruel place sometimes. As one of the fiercest and most exciting three-way title races in history was beginning to bubble away, it has just as quickly come to a grinding halt.
Juventus, Lazio and Inter are separated by only six points at the top of Serie A, with the latter holding at least a game in hand on their rivals. We were all bracing ourselves for the Here\’s a look at the chaos ensuing in Italy. mouth-watering prospect of Maurizio Sarri’s Bianconeri and Antonio Conte’s Nerazzurri going toe-to-toe in Turn this weekend.
But it is not to be. Serie A officials have confirmed that at least five games in the Italian top flight will be postponed – including the weekend’s super-match – and will be played at a later date. But why has this happened?
Here’s a look at the chaos ensuing in Italy.
Why Are the Games Postponed?
Although cases of coronavirus are relatively few and far between in the United Kingdom, Italy has seen a dramatic surge in the number of confirmed cases in the north of the country, and there have been at least 17 deaths recorded thus far.
Nearly 900 people have been infected with the CIVOD-19 virus in Italy, with the areas of Lombardy and Veneto particularly affected. As a result, the Italian FA suspended several games in the north of Italy last weekend to slow the spreading of the virus, and declared that five games this weekend must be played behind closed doors.
But a further announcement was made on Saturday morning, deeming that the matches must be postponed, due to serious risks to the health and safety of the Italian citizens.
Which Games Are Affected?
The five matches which will not take place this weekend are: Udinese v Fiorentina, Milan v Genoa, Parma v Spal, Sassuolo v Brescia and the big Sunday evening title clash between Juventus and Inter.
When Will the Fixtures Be Played?
All rescheduled matches will be played on Wednesday 13 May, meaning Juventus’ battle with Inter could turn out to be the ultimate title-decider (unless Lazio beat them both to it).
But That’s Coppa Italia Final Day?!
Atalanta BC v SS Lazio – TIM Cup Final
Yep, bold heading, you’re absolutely right. Wednesday 13 May was supposed to be the date for the Coppa Italia final, but given that completing all the league fixtures is the main priority, the Italian FA has decided to move the final to Wednesday 20 May.
The venue has also been changed, and the big finale will take place at San Siro in Milan, and not at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
When Will the Season End?
Due to the looming Euro 2020 summer tournament, there is little wiggle room to extend the season at all. The Italian FA is still hopeful that Sunday 24 May will be the final day of the Serie A season – provided that the coronavirus does not disrupt the football calendar any further.
Jurgen Klopp dismissed claims that Liverpool’s dominance is a sign that the Premier League has become less competitive, while warning that his side could still improve.
Liverpool went down to the wire last season against Manchester City in a thrilling title run-in before ultimately losing out by a single point.
In 2019-20, however, the Premier League has been little more than a procession, with Liverpool leading by a massive 22 points having won all but one of their games to date.
Two more wins for the Reds could see them clinch the title in record time if City fail to take a point from their corresponding fixtures; but Klopp believes the gap at the top does not show a dip in quality.
“I couldn’t care less [what people say]. Look, it is completely normal. I don’t think that we should have any concern for things like this,” he told reporters on Monday.
“If other people think like that – if they think City are not as good as they were – they are! They have scored a little less goals than us, conceded a few more, and if you look why it is clear they have been missing some players.
“The other teams are really strong too. Yes, Bayern beat Tottenham and Chelsea [in the Champions League] but they are really strong over a season.
‘Yes, [Spurs and Chelsea] have had some problems, that’s all true. But in the moment that you play them you don’t feel that they have these problems. The points they have, we have no influence on that apart from the games when we play them.
“So it says nothing about the quality of the Premier League, especially when you look at City v Real Madrid. I know that people look at these things and you saw that one of the best teams in the world maybe in the moment and City were clearly better so that shows as well how strong the League is.”
Jackie Chan, award-winning Hong Kong actor, has assured his numerous fans that he is safe and not under quarantine amid concerns of the deadly coronavirus.
In a post on his social media page, the veteran actor disclosed that he was informed by one of his staff that there had been widespread rumours of him being quarantined for the virus.
He also said that such rumours making the rounds have fetched him several donations from several quarters.
While appreciating his fans for their gestures, the 65-year-old, however, noted he is healthy and safe from the virus.
“Thanks for everybody’s concern! I’m safe and sound, and very healthy. Please don’t worry, I’m not in quarantine. I hope everyone stays safe and healthy too!” he told his over 3 million Instagram followers.
Chan also took to his official website to issue a more detailed statement.
“Recently, my staff told me about the news that’s been circulating around the world, saying that I’ve been placed under quarantine for COVID-19,” he wrote.
“Firstly, I’d like to take this opportunity to say “thank you” for everybody’s concern! I’m very healthy and safe, and haven’t been quarantined. I’ve received many messages from friends asking if I’m ok. Your love and concern is so heartwarming. Thank you!”
He added that he has already asked his staff to distribute the face masks and other gifts sent to him to organisations that need such.
“I’ve also received some very special gifts from fans all over the world during this very difficult time. Thank you for the face masks,” he added.
“Your thoughtfulness is well received! And I’ve asked my lovely staff to donate your kindness through official organisations to those who need it most.”
The deadly virus has been ravaging several countries across the globe, with Nigeria recording its first case on Friday.
It seems this is a season for motivational quotes for famous Nigerian rapper, Naira Marley as he has advised people to accept themselves as they are.
The musician who has been dishing out a series of advise over the past few days, told fans to not feel the need for external validation but learn to accept themselves instead.
Naira Marley took to his verified Twitter handle @Officialnairam1 to give the advise on Friday, February 28, 2020. He said: “You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”
Five Italian Serie-A weekend matches including Sunday’s clash between Juventus and Inter Milan have been postponed due to the novel Coronavirus, the Italian football league said Saturday.
Other matches called off were AC Milan v Genoa, Parma v SPAL, Sassuolo v Brescia and Udinese v Fiorentina, the league said in a statement on Saturday.
The matches had been scheduled to be played behind closed doors.
Italy is the country hardest hit by the virus outbreak in Europe, with 650 cases and 17 deaths, mostly in cities in the north.
Three footballers have tested positive for the novel virus recently including an Italian-Nigerian footballer, King Udoh.
An Italian businessman was also confirmed to have tested positive for the novel virus in Lagos on Friday, making it the first index case of Coronavirus in Nigeria and in West Africa.
Right now, COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic is on tour of the world the way the bubonic plague struck Europe and Asia in the mid-1300s and influenza in 1918. It has included Nigeria in its hideous itinerary! In order for the current disease not to have the same devastating effects, government, non-state actors and individuals are making moves, providing supports and suggesting solutions. One of these is Mr Bill Gates.
Gates is a world-acclaimed software developer, investor, entrepreneur, philanthropist who, through his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has intervened in the area of health globally. He has stated the steps national, state, local governments and public health agencies can take over the next few weeks to slow the spread of Coronavirus.
He made the suggestions in his article published in New England Journal of Medicine.
For example, in addition to helping their own citizens respond, donor governments should, according to Gates, help low- and middle-income countries prepare for this pandemic. In his words, the health systems in many of these countries “are already stretched thin, and a pathogen like coronavirus can quickly overwhelm them.” And poorer countries, as he argued, have little political or economic leverage, “given wealthier countries’ natural desire to put their own people first.”
He sounded a note of warning: “There are two reasons that COVID-19 is such a threat. First, it can kill healthy adults in addition to elderly people with existing health problems. The data so far suggests that the virus has a case fatality risk around 1%; this rate would make it several times more severe than typical seasonal influenza and would put it somewhere between the 1957 influenza pandemic (0.6%) and the 1918 influenza pandemic (2%).
Second, COVID-19 is transmitted quite efficiently. The average infected person spreads the disease to two or three others. That’s an exponential rate of increase. There is also strong evidence that it can be transmitted by people who are just mildly ill or not even showing symptoms yet. This means COVID-19 will be much harder to contain than Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which were only spread by those showing symptoms and were much less efficiently transmitted. In fact, COVID-19 has already caused 10 times as many cases as SARS in just a quarter of the time.”
Below is his article, entitled:
Responding to Covid-19 – A Once-in-a-Century Pandemic?
By Bill Gates
In any crisis, leaders have two equally important responsibilities: solve the immediate problem and keep it from happening again. The COVID-19 pandemic is an excellent case in point. The world needs to save lives now while also improving the way we respond to outbreaks in general. The first point is more pressing, but the second has crucial long-term consequences.
The long-term challenge—improving our ability to respond to outbreaks—isn’t new. Global health experts have been saying for years that another pandemic rivalling the speed and severity of the 1918 influenza epidemic wasn’t a matter of if but when. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed significant resources in recent years to helping the world prepare for such a scenario.
Now, in addition to the perennial challenge, we face an immediate crisis. In the past week, COVID-19 has started to behave a lot like the once-in-a-century pathogen we’ve been worried about. I hope it’s not that bad, but we should assume that it will be until we know otherwise.
There are two reasons that COVID-19 is such a threat. First, it can kill healthy adults in addition to elderly people with existing health problems. The data so far suggests that the virus has a case fatality risk around 1%; this rate would make it several times more severe than typical seasonal influenza and would put it somewhere between the 1957 influenza pandemic (0.6%) and the 1918 influenza pandemic (2%).
Second, COVID-19 is transmitted quite efficiently. The average infected person spreads the disease to two or three others. That’s an exponential rate of increase. There is also strong evidence that it can be transmitted by people who are just mildly ill or not even showing symptoms yet. This means COVID-19 will be much harder to contain than Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which were only spread by those showing symptoms and were much less efficiently transmitted. In fact, COVID-19 has already caused 10 times as many cases as SARS in just a quarter of the time.
The good news is that national, state, and local governments and public health agencies can take steps over the next few weeks to slow the spread of COVID-19.
For example, in addition to helping their own citizens respond, donor governments should help low- and middle-income countries prepare for this pandemic. The health systems in many of these countries are already stretched thin, and a pathogen like coronavirus can quickly overwhelm them. And poorer countries have little political or economic leverage, given wealthier countries’ natural desire to put their own people first.
“By helping countries in Africa and South Asia get ready now, we can save lives and also slow the global circulation of the virus.”
By helping countries in Africa and South Asia get ready now, we can save lives and also slow the global circulation of the virus. (A significant portion of the commitment Melinda and I recently made to help kickstart the global response to COVID-19—which could total up to $100 million—is focused particularly on developing countries.)
The world also needs to accelerate work on treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. Scientists were able to sequence the genome of the virus and develop several promising vaccine candidates in a matter of days, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations is already preparing up to eight promising vaccine candidates for clinical trials. If one or more of these vaccines proves safe and effective in animal models, they could be ready for larger-scale trials as early as June. Drug discovery can also be accelerated by drawing on libraries of compounds that have already been tested for safety and by applying new screening techniques, including machine learning, to identify antivirals that could be ready for large-scale clinical trials within weeks.
All these steps would help address the current crisis. But we also need to make larger systemic changes so we can respond more efficiently and effectively when the next epidemic arrives.
It’s essential to help low- and middle-income countries strengthen their primary health care systems. When you build a health clinic, you’re also creating part of the infrastructure for fighting epidemics. Trained health care workers not only deliver vaccines; they can also monitor disease patterns, serving as part of the early warning systems that will alert the world to potential outbreaks.
The world also needs to invest in disease surveillance, including a case database that is instantly accessible to the relevant organizations and rules that require countries to share their information. Governments should have access to lists of trained personnel, from local leaders to global experts, who are prepared to deal with an epidemic immediately, as well as lists of supplies to be stockpiled or redirected in an emergency.
In addition, we need to build a system that can develop safe and effective vaccines and antivirals, get them approved, and deliver billions of doses within a few months of the discovery of a fast-moving pathogen. That’s a tough challenge that presents technical, diplomatic, and budgetary obstacles, as well as demanding partnership between the public and private sectors. But all these obstacles can be overcome.
One of the main technical challenges for vaccines is to improve on the old ways of manufacturing proteins, which are just too slow for responding to an epidemic. We need to develop platforms that are predictably safe, so regulatory reviews can happen quickly, and that make it easy for manufacturers to produce doses at a low cost and a massive scale. For antivirals, there will need to be an organized system to screen existing treatments and candidate molecules in a swift and standardized manner.
Another technical challenge involves constructs based on nucleic acids. These constructs can be produced within hours after a virus’s genome has been sequenced; now we need to find ways to produce them at scale.
In addition to these technical solutions, we’ll need diplomatic efforts to drive international collaboration and data sharing. Developing antivirals and vaccines involves massive clinical trials and licensing agreements that would cross national borders. We should make the most of global forums that can help achieve consensus on research priorities and trial protocols so that promising vaccine and antiviral candidates can move quickly through this process. These platforms include the World Health Organization R&D Blueprint, the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium trial network, and the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness. The goal of this work should be to get conclusive clinical trial results and regulatory approval in three months or less, without compromising patients’ safety.
“Budgets for these efforts need to be expanded several times over.”
Then there is the question of funding. Budgets for these efforts need to be expanded several times over. Billions more dollars are needed to complete Phase III trials and secure regulatory approval for coronavirus vaccines, and still more funding will be needed to improve disease surveillance and response.
Why does this require government funding—can’t the private sector solve this on its own? Pandemic products are extraordinarily high-risk investments, and pharmaceutical companies will need public funding to de-risk their work and get them to jump in with both feet. In addition, governments and other donors will need to fund—as a global public good—manufacturing facilities that can generate a vaccine supply in a matter of weeks. These facilities can make vaccines for routine immunization programs in normal times and be quickly refitted for production during a pandemic. Finally, governments will need to finance the procurement and distribution of vaccines to the populations that need them.
Obviously, billions of dollars for anti-pandemic efforts is a lot of money. But that’s the scale of investment required to solve the problem. And given the economic pain that an epidemic can impose—just look at the way COVID-19 is disrupting supply chains and stock markets, not to mention people’s lives—it will be a bargain.
Finally, governments and industry will need to come to an agreement: During a pandemic, vaccines and antivirals won’t simply be sold to the highest bidder. They’ll be available and affordable for people who are at the heart of the outbreak and in greatest need. Not only is this the right thing to do, it’s also the right strategy for short-circuiting transmission and preventing future pandemics.
These are the actions that leaders should be taking now. There is no time to waste.
• This post originally appeared on the website of the New England Journal of Medicine. I wrote there about the need for a global pandemic response system in 2015, and about the threat posed by a novel respiratory virus in 2018.