Tag Archives: COVID-19

COVID-19: South Africa stops vaccination as worries grow over AstraZeneca

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Efforts are underway in the United States, the hardest-hit nation, to accelerate its mass vaccination programme, which has been plagued by supply and logistics issues.

South Africa suspended the start of its AstraZeneca inoculation programme over concerns the shot does not work on a new variant, with WHO experts due to meet Monday to discuss the vaccine already facing questions about its efficacy for over-65s.

A trial showed the vaccine provides only “minimal” protection against mild to moderate Covid-19 caused by the variant first detected in South Africa, a setback to the global fight against the pandemic as many poorer nations are relying on the logistical advantages offered by the AstraZeneca shot.

Africa’s hardest-hit nation was due to start its campaign in the coming days with a million AstraZeneca doses but the government decided to hold off in light of the results from the trial conducted by the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

“It’s a temporary issue that we have to hold on AstraZeneca until we figure out these issues,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told reporters on Sunday.

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The 1.5 million AstraZeneca vaccines obtained by South Africa, which will expire in April, will be kept until scientists give clear indications on their use, he added.

AstraZeneca, which developed the shot with the University of Oxford, told AFP: “We do believe our vaccine will still protect against severe disease.”

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A company spokesperson said researchers were already working to update the vaccine to deal with the South African variant, which has been spreading rapidly around the world.

A World Health Organization panel is due to meet on Monday in Geneva to examine the shot, which is a major component of the initial Covax global vaccine rollout that covers some 145 countries — mostly lower- and lower-middle-income economies.

Out of the initial 337.2 million Covax doses, 240 million are AstraZeneca shots, which do not require the supercold storage needed for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

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There were already concerns about the efficacy of the AstraZeneca shot among over-65s, with a number of European nations not authorising it yet for that demographic.

‘Be careful’
The coronavirus pandemic has claimed more than 2.3 million lives globally out of nearly 106 million known infections, and despite the AstraZeneca setback, vaccine rollouts in other countries are gathering pace.

Hungarian authorities said Sunday they have approved Russia’s Sputnik V shot, while Cambodia became the latest nation to receive delivery of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, taking on 600,000 doses of the jab.

Efforts are underway in the United States, the hardest-hit nation, to accelerate its mass vaccination programme, which has been plagued by supply and logistics issues.

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President Joe Biden, who took office last month, said his predecessor Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic “was even more dire than we thought”.

“We thought they had indicated there was a lot more vaccine available, and it didn’t turn out to be the case,” he told NoRM‘s known Media on Sunday. “So that’s why we’ve ramped up every way we can.”

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Biden also asked American football fans to “be careful”, with health experts worried about the virus spreading at parties expected during and after the Super Bowl, the country’s biggest sporting event.

A health worker displays a vial containing the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, in Suresnes, on February 6, 2021, on the start of a vaccination campaign for health workers with the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine. – The top French medical authority Haute autorité de Santé has approved the vaccine for use in France, but only for people under 65, echoing decisions made in Sweden, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland over concerns about a lack of data on the effectiveness of the vaccine for over 65s. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)

‘I was bored at home’
There was some good news out of Israel, which began emerging out of its third lockdown on Sunday. Israel’s vaccination programme is considered the fastest per-capita in the world.

In neighbouring Jordan, hundreds of thousands of students returned to classrooms on Sunday after almost a year.

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“I am very happy to see my friends and teacher again,” said seven-year-old Mecca at a school in Jabal Amman, in the centre of the Jordanian capital.

“I was bored at home.”

Schools were also expected to reopen on Monday in Romania, the Netherlands, Denmark and Austria. Museums and shops were also due to reopen in Austria.

And there was both gloom and optimism in Venice, where the annual Carnival kicked off with much smaller celebrations.

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“Venice is strange this year. It is shocking to see it so empty,” said Armando Bala, a costume salesman.

“We are here today to say that Venice can live and be reborn, as it has several times in its history.”

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#Newsworthy

Anger as US student in charge of vaccines distribution inject friends in Philadelphia.

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Several officials have called for an investigation into why city hall awarded the contract to someone so young.

The student CEO of a company tasked with distributing coronavirus vaccines in Philadelphia admitted Thursday that he had given some doses to friends, sparking anger in the US where the rollout of shots has been sluggish.

Philadelphia’s local government employed Philly Fighting Covid, a group founded by 22-year-old Andrei Doroshin last year, to distribute thousands of Covid-19 vaccines across the eastern US city.

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The group was a major player in Philadelphia’s coronavirus fight, first by participating in testing and then in early January by organizing the city’s first major vaccination center.

Philly Fighting Covid vaccinated nearly 7,000 people, mostly frontline health workers, who were given priority under the vaccination drive.

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But Doroshin admitted that he had taken doses home and injected four of his friends, despite not being a registered nurse.

He defended his actions by saying that the doses were about to expire and his group could not find anyone in high-risk groups who were eligible for a shot.

“I stand by that decision. I understand that I made that mistake. That is my mistake to carry for the rest of my life, but it is not the mistake of the organization,” he told NoRM‘s known Media.

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The city severed ties with the group after it became a for-profit organization.

Several officials have called for an investigation into why city hall awarded the contract to someone so young.

Most states are prioritizing vaccines for workers most exposed to the virus and people over 65.

The lifespan of the vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna is very limited once the vials have been opened.

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There have been other reports of doses administered to non-priority people.

According to US media, health workers in Oregon administered six doses of the Moderna vaccine to motorists after they became trapped in a snowstorm, knowing the vials would likely expire before they got out.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: Nigeria reports 1,588 fresh cases.

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The NCDC said that a multi-sectoral national Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), activated at Level 3, is coordinating response activities nationwide.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has recorded 1,588 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 139,242.

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The NCDC disclosed this on its official Twitter handle on Saturday.

Noble Reporters Media reports that since the pandemic emerged in the country, number of tests conducted has increased while testing and reporting techniques have improved, leading to a rise in reported cases.

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However, the number of diagnosed cases is only a part of the real total number of infections as a significant number of less serious or asymptomatic cases always remain undetected.

NCDC said that the country had so far tested 1,302,410 people since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was recorded on Feb. 27, 2020.

The public health agency also registered additional six coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,647 in the country.

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It said that the new infections were reported from 20 states, and Lagos, the country’s epicentre for the disease outbreak, leading the pack with 535.

Other states with new cases were, Anambra 218, Oyo 155, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) 150, Kano 124, Gombe 60, Kaduna 49, Ebonyi 48, Plateau 46, Akwa Ibom 39, Niger 37, Edo 33, Katsina 23, Rivers 18, Taraba 15, Nasarawa 14, Ogun 11, Delta 10, Ekiti 2 and Jigawa 2.

The health agency also disclosed that 918 people were successfully treated and had been discharged from various isolation center across the country, bringing the total number of recoveries to 112,557 in 36 states and the FCT.

It added that those discharged on Saturday included 498 community recoveries in Lagos State, 64 in Kano State and 54 in Plateau State, managed in line with its guidelines.

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The NCDC said that a multi-sectoral national Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), activated at Level 3, is coordinating response activities nationwide.

NoRM reports that as a result of corrections by the NCDC or late publication of data, the figures updated over the past 24 hours might not correspond exactly to the previous day’s tallies.

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#Newsworthy

Hundreds rally against COVID-19 restrictions in Switzerland.

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Most countries around the world impacted by the coronavirus require their citizens to wear masks, as health officials have said face coverings help curb the spread of the virus.

Hundreds of protesters marched in Switzerland on Saturday against coronavirus restrictions after the health minister said the current restrictions will stay in place through the end of February.

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Approximately 500 protesters marched through the Swiss city of Zug to protest against what they see as unfair restrictions, Reuters reported.

Switzerland tightened its rules last month, closing nonessential stores, requiring masks in stores that remain open, having employees work from home if possible and limiting gatherings to five people.

NoRM reported that demonstrators protesting Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset’s extension of the restrictions wore protective suits and carried signs reading, “Wearing a mask is modern slavery.”

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Most countries around the world impacted by the coronavirus require their citizens to wear masks, as health officials have said face coverings help curb the spread of the virus.

“I want to make a statement, that the citizens are the ones who are in control, and the state should be there to serve its citizens,” a person from the protest told Reuters.

“I’m a grandmother,” another person said. “I don’t want my grandchildren to grow up in a world where so much is forbidden.”

Switzerland does have lighter restrictions than some other countries, with their schools still allowed to be open. However, debate continues around the world over how far coronavirus restrictions should go.

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No arrests were made at Saturday’s protest, as the police stayed out of the protesters’ way, Reuters reported.

Switzerland has seen almost 9,000 people dead and 530,000 people infected since the start of the pandemic, with new concerns surrounding a United Kingdom strand of the virus, which has been shown to be more contagious and possibly more deadly.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: African leaders war at virtual meeting.

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The summit also marks the official beginning of the year-long AU chairmanship of Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, who is replacing Ramaphosa.

African leaders opened a two-day virtual summit on Saturday to discuss the continent’s Covid-19 response as well as security issues that have been overlooked during the pandemic.

The African Union summit comes almost exactly one year after Egypt recorded the first coronavirus case in Africa, prompting widespread fears that member states’ weak health systems would quickly be overwhelmed.

But despite early doomsday predictions, the continent has been hit less hard than other regions so far, recording 3.5 percent of virus cases and four percent of deaths worldwide, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Today, though, many African countries are battling damaging second waves while straining to procure sufficient vaccine doses.

“This disease has caused great suffering and hardship across our continent,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the outgoing AU chairman, said in opening remarks Saturday.

“It is not only a severe health emergency. It is also a grave economic and social crisis.”

African leaders have been speaking out against vaccine hoarding by rich countries at the expense of poorer ones.

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“There is a vaccine nationalism on the rise, with other rich countries jumping the queue, some even pre-ordering more than they require,” Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the AU’s executive body the African Union Commission, said in a recent interview.

Ramaphosa was due to deliver a pandemic response update during the closed portion of the summit on Saturday, according to a draft programme seen by AFP.

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In his opening speech he called for “a fresh injection of resources” from the International Monetary Fund to “correct the glaring inequality in fiscal stimulus measures between advanced economies and the rest of the world.”

  • Elections and crises
    Separately, member states are due to hold internal elections to lead the restructured commission — the results of which will shape how the AU responds to the pandemic and a host of economic and security challenges.

Faki, a former prime minister of Chad, is running unopposed for a second four-year term as commission chief.

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He still needs to get two-thirds of the vote, overcoming accusations — which he denies — of “a culture of sexual harassment, bribery, corruption and bullying within the commission,” the International Crisis Group wrote in a recent briefing.

In another race, Nigerian Bankole Adeoye is favoured to head the AU’s newly-merged political affairs and peace and security departments, diplomats say, though AU rules dividing top positions among Africa’s sub-regions could lead to a surprise result.

Whoever wins could play a critical role, along with Faki, in addressing crises the AU is accused of overlooking.

There are multiple internal conflicts the AU has done little to resolve.

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Its Peace and Security Council has failed to hold meetings on a conflict between government forces and anglophone separatists in Cameroon, for example, as well as rising Islamist militancy in Mozambique.

A three-month-old conflict in the AU’s host country Ethiopia, pitting Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government against the former ruling party of the northern Tigray region, has proved especially sensitive.

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Abiy has rejected appeals from high-level AU envoys for talks with Tigrayan leaders, sticking to his line that the conflict is a limited “law and order” operation.

  • Congo in charge
    This weekend’s summit comes as new US President Joe Biden vows to re-engage with multilateral institutions like the African Union.

In a video message posted Friday, Biden said his administration would engage in “sustained diplomacy, in connection with the African Union, to address conflicts that are costing lives all across the African continent.”

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The summit also marks the official beginning of the year-long AU chairmanship of Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, who is replacing Ramaphosa.

Addressing fellow heads of state and government on Saturday, Tshisekedi vowed to make the AU more relevant by taking it “away from meeting rooms”.

Tshisekedi has outlined an ambitious agenda that includes responding to climate change, fighting sexual violence, promoting the African Continental Free Trade Area and accelerating his own country’s Grand Inga Hydropower Project, which the AU sees as an important source of electricity for the continent.

But Tshisekedi is also embroiled in a tussle for power at home with supporters of DR Congo’s former president Joseph Kabila.

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Mohamed Diatta, a researcher for the Institute for Security Studies, said Tshisekedi is “trying really hard to consolidate power at home, but it’s not an easy task”.

“He’s probably going to still be busy with that because what he’s created at home is essentially a very fragile and loose governing coalition,” Diatta told AFP.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: Nigeria pushing for vaccine before March – Minister.

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Nigerians have, however, been expectant of vaccines, especially as the cases of COVID-19 in the country continues to surge.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama says Nigeria is making efforts and hopeful to get the coronavirus vaccines to the country by end of February.

Onyeama disclosed this in an interview with the NoRM‘s known media in Abuja.

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He said Nigeria was expecting vaccines from the People’s Republic of China, a strategic partner of Nigeria and from other countries.

“What we are engaging with China is in the area of vaccines for COVID-19, so we are also looking to import, to acquire significant vaccines from China and other partners too.

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“I think in the short immediate time that is an area we will need China.

“They have cooperated with us with regards to personal protective equipment and other things in our COVID response.

“So we are now at the stage of the vaccine and we are hoping that we can get some support from them in that area.

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“There are different ways we are expecting to get the vaccines. There is a bilateral way as a country that we are negotiating.

“Then we have the framework of the African Union collectively as a continent, they are also engagements to receive the vaccine.

“The African Union has made some headway, more than 400 million as what has been agreed to. So we were hoping that at the end of January we would have started receiving the vaccines.

“But I think almost certainly by the middle of February we should have started receiving,” Onyeama said.

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Noble Reporter Media, reports that in January when the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Nigeria, the Federal Government opened discussions with China to have access to its COVID-19 vaccines.

Nigerians have, however, been expectant of vaccines, especially as the cases of COVID-19 in the country continues to surge.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: Iran to begin vaccinations ‘in the week’

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The president expressed hope that the first three categories would be inoculated before the Persian New Year on March 21.

Iran will kick off its coronavirus vaccination campaign within a week, President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday after the country received its first batch of Russia’s Sputnik V jab.

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The Islamic republic is fighting the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak of the coronavirus, with over 58,000 lives lost out of more than 1.4 million cases of infection.

Iran has bought two million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told AFP.

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The first batch arrived in the country on Thursday, and the country is scheduled to receive two more batches by February 28.

“Vaccinations will start this very week; this is a real cause for celebration,” Rouhani told a televised meeting of Iran’s Covid-19 taskforce.

He did not give a specific date, only saying that the programme would begin before next Wednesday, which marks the 42nd anniversary of the victory of the Islamic revolution.

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Health workers would be the first to get the jabs, followed by the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions, Rouhani said.

The president expressed hope that the first three categories would be inoculated before the Persian New Year on March 21.

Russia registered the Sputnik V vaccine — named after the Soviet-era satellite — in August last year, before the start of large-scale clinical trials.

In addition to the Russian jab, Iran is expecting to receive 4.2 million doses of a vaccine from the Anglo-Swedish firm AstraZeneca in February.

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They were purchased via Covax, the mechanism for the equitable distribution of vaccines established by the UN World Health Organization.

Iran started clinical trials of one of its own vaccines in late December, and according to Rouhani, they may become available by early summer.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: China approves second domestic vaccine.

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China has been racing to develop homegrown jabs and aims to vaccinate 50 million people before the start of the Lunar New Year in mid-February.

China’s drug authorities have given “conditional” approval for a second Covid-19 vaccine, Sinovac’s CoronaVac jab, the pharmaceutical company said Saturday.

The vaccine has already been rolled out to key groups at higher risk of exposure to coronavirus but Saturday’s approval allows for its use on the general public.

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A conditional approval helps hustle emergency drugs to market in cases when clinical trials are yet to meet normal standards but indicate therapies will work.

The approval comes after multiple domestic and overseas trials of the vaccine in countries including Brazil and Turkey, although “efficacy and safety results need to be further confirmed”, Sinovac said in a statement.

Fellow Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm received a similar conditional green light in December to put its vaccine on the market.

Sinovac said trials in Brazil had shown around 50 percent efficacy in preventing infection and 80 percent efficacy in preventing cases requiring medical intervention.

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“The results show that the vaccine has good safety and immunogenic effect on people of all age groups,” Sinovac said Saturday.

Meanwhile, Sinopharm said in December that its vaccine had a 79.34 percent efficacy rate, lower than rival jabs developed in the West by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — with 95 and 94 percent rates respectively.

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China has been racing to develop homegrown jabs and aims to vaccinate 50 million people before the start of the Lunar New Year in mid-February.

The holiday normally spurs a travel rush with hundreds of millions traversing the country — though authorities are encouraging people to stay home this year through a mixture of restrictions and incentives.

As China ramps up its vaccine campaign, authorities have repeatedly assured the public of the jab’s safety and efficacy, despite not releasing any detailed clinical trial data.

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At the same time, Beijing has been promoting its vaccines abroad in what analysts have called “vaccine diplomacy” to earn goodwill after facing criticism for its early handling of the outbreak.

China’s foreign ministry on Wednesday said it planned to provide 10 million vaccine doses to the WHO-backed international vaccine distribution programme Covax.

Beijing has also pledged to share the vaccine at a fair cost — a potential boost for poorer Asian countries who are otherwise reliant on limited distribution offered by the Covax scheme.

Countries including Senegal, Indonesia, and Hungary have procured millions of vaccine doses from Chinese pharmaceutical firms.

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But take-up has been slower abroad for Chinese vaccines compared to jabs from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, as little information has been published about the safety or efficacy of Chinese vaccines.

Chinese vaccine makers also have chequered reputations, after major scandals at home involving expired or poor quality products.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: Nigeria reports 1,340 cases; 14 new deaths.

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As COVID-19 cases increases everyday and death toll rises gently, total cases in Nigeria hits 136,030.

Nigeria reports 1,244 fresh COVID-19 cases as total death hit 1,632 and total recovery hit 110,449.

FCT, Lagos and Rivers records highest cases of 320, 275 and 117 respectively while Sokoto reports lowest case(s) of
3.

New cases of 1,340 were reported from 22 Nigerian states and the whole 36 states in Nigeria has part in above total cases.

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States’ Stands•

1340 new cases of #COVID19Nigeria;

FCT-320
Lagos-275
Rivers-117
Oyo-100
Akwa Ibom-57
Ogun-51
Ebonyi-48
Benue-44
Adamawa-42
Imo-38
Kwara-35
Gombe-32
Kaduna-31
Edo-29
Osun-29
Kano-24
Ekiti-15
Katsina-14
Delta-13
Nasarawa-13
Jigawa-10
Sokoto-3

@newsworthywriter

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#Newsworthy

Former lawmaker dies of COVID-19 complications.

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Rabiu was the Dalatun Bichi and District Head of Dawakin Tofa until his death.

Former house of Representative and veterinary doctor, Dr. Abdullahi Maikano Rabiu has reportedly died of Coronavirus.

Rabiu who hailed from Kano state passed away on Thursday of COVID-19 complications at Kwanar Dawakin Isolation centre in Kano.

Alhaji Sanusi Bature Dawakin Tofe announced the death on behalf of the family disclosed that arrangement is been put in place for the burial of the late former special adviser to Governor Ibrahim led administration on Economic matters.

Dr Abdullahi Maikano Rabiu was Assistant General Manager, Bnak of the North, former Chairman, Kano Micro Finance Bank and House of Representative member in the second republic.

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Maikano was eleceted into the senate in 1998 under the UNPP during the Sani Abacha regime.

Rabiu was the Dalatun Bichi and District Head of Dawakin Tofa until his death.

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#Newsworthy

United Nations preaches ‘end of meat’ to escape COVID-19.

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UNEP warned that if ecosystems are continually destroyed, the population’s food supply will be endangered.

It has now been revealed that eating less meat can help reduce the risk of coronavirus and save the environment.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) gave the advice while announcing a new Chatham House report on Wednesday.

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Speaking on the report, Philip Lymbery of Compassion in World Farming, called for caution by humans.

“At a time when so much of the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s never been more obvious that the well-being of people and animals, wild and farmed, are intertwined,” he said.

UNEP warned that if ecosystems are continually destroyed, the population’s food supply will be endangered.

The document called for a shift to plant-based foods and protection of lands.

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Renowned primatologist, Jane Goodall said intensive farming of billions of animals globally damages the environment.

She stressed that this causes “loss of biodiversity, producing massive greenhouse gas emissions that accelerate global warming”.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: Kaduna Gov’t signs drone-delivered vaccines agreement with Zipline.

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American medical product delivery company had operated distribution centers in Rwanda, Ghana, and US.Lagos State in January 2020 banned the operations of commercial motorcycles and tricycles in six local government areas in the state.

Kaduna State Government has signed a deal with medical delivery firm Zipline that will allow drone shipment of COVID-19 vaccines without significant state investment in cold-chain storage.

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“KDSG and Zipline have signed a service level agreement for the distribution of medical commodities in the state,” the state governor Malam Nasir El-Rufai said on Twitter.

“Zipline will add value to these KDSG initiatives by building distribution hubs in the state and using drones to deliver medical supplies.”

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El-Rufai further stated that agreement is built on the state’s investments in primary health care and supply chain transformation in the health sector starting from 2015.

Zipline in a Reuters report noted that its end-to-end cold chain distribution capability can safely deliver even the Pfizer vaccine which would allow Kaduna health facilities to bypass purchases of ultra-low freezers and enable on-demand deliveries of precise amounts of COVID-19 vaccines.

The American medical product delivery company had operated distribution centers in Rwanda, Ghana, and US.

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Pfizer vaccine for instance must be stored at around -70 degrees Celsius (-112°F) before being sent to distribution centres in specially designed cool boxes filled with dry ice.

Kaduna Gov’t signs drone-delivered vaccines agreement with Zipline |

Athough, Nigeria said it will seek vaccines that are less dependent on cooling facilities, Zipline said it is in talk with other states in the country.

Kaduna services are slated to begin in the second quarter, with round-the-clock service from three distribution centres with 30 drones each.

El-Rufai said Kaduna had also upgraded 255 primary health centres, installed a pharmagrade warehouse and is recruiting and training 3,000 officers to manage the facilities.

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KDSG has upgraded 255 PHCs and is recruiting 3000 officers to strengthen the sector,” El Rufai said.

“The state has installed a Pharmagrade warehouse, run by its health supplies agencies to ease the provision of medicines, consumables and vaccines to its health facilities.”

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: Scepticism ahead of Africa vaccination campaign.

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African governments need to proactively engage vaccine-hesitant citizens, he said, in a sentiment echoed by other public-health experts.

Conspiracy theories, mistrust and patchy communication have contributed to a flourishing of scepticism about Covid-19 vaccines in African countries, experts say, posing potential dangers to future immunisation campaigns.

Anti-vaccine sentiment, often fed by rumours spread on social media, is already thriving in the West.

But a similar dynamic is at play across Africa, according to public health experts on the continent, with people warier of Covid-19 jabs than they would be of other vaccines.

“There’s a high level of scepticism,” said Ayoade Alakija, the chief Africa strategist for Convince, a campaign to encourage confidence in Covid-19 vaccines.

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Explanations for the wariness vary, she explained, noting that suspicion of government elites and vaccine misinformation play a role.

One prevalent conspiracy theory, for example, holds that the Covid-19 vaccines are designed to quell Africa’s population growth.

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Skepticism extends to the tops of some governments too. In late January, Tanzania’s President John Magufuli dismissed Covid jabs as “dangerous for our health”.

Andry Rajoelina, the president of the island state of Madagascar, has also touted an untested herbal remedy for Covid-19.

Many African countries are currently battling a surge in coronavirus cases, but few have seen outbreaks as large as in the West, which some argue has led to a decreased sense of urgency.

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Most African countries are also months away — at best — from beginning vaccinations, with wealthier countries hoovering up supplies in the global vaccine race.

Misinformation
Moise Shitu, a 28-year-old who works as a driver in Nigeria’s capital Lagos, told AFP he would refuse a vaccine.

“Our government is into fraud,” he said. “They are saying there is coronavirus in Nigeria to make money”.

Health workers hope governments can combat vaccine misinformation, but people in many African countries won’t take their rulers’ word for it JOHN WESSELS AFP/File

In the northern Nigerian city of Kano, 41-year-old Zainab Abdullahi also said she’d refuse a jab.

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“We are seeing reports of serious side-effects from people who took the shot in the West and they still want to bring the vaccine to us,” she said.

The picture isn’t uniform. Waiters interviewed by AFP in a cafe in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa were keen to receive a vaccine because of their risk of contracting the virus, for example.

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Although hesitancy about new vaccines is common, Mamadou Traore, a vaccination advisor for Medecins Sans Frontieres, said the phenomenon has grown “much worse”.

“People told themselves this isn’t an illness that affects black people,” he said. “It is governments’ job to dispute all this misinformation”.

‘Spread like wildfire’
There are few reliable studies on Covid-19 vaccine attitudes in Africa, but preliminary surveys suggest that large groups of people are wary.

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In December, the Africa Centres for Disease Control released the results of an 18-country survey showing that only a quarter of respondents thought Covid-19 vaccines would be safe.

Still, the study found few vaccine denialists: about 79 percent said they would take a “safe” shot.

Richard Mihigo, the World Health Organization’s vaccination coordinator in Africa, pointed out that the continent has historically seen high levels of vaccine acceptance — which he said bodes well for future Covid-19 campaigns.

But rumours linked to the Covid-19 vaccine have also “spread like wildfire” online, he said, and are a “real issue”.

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In a television interview in April, for example, two French scientists suggested that companies trial vaccines in Africa first — igniting a racism row and feeding longstanding fears about medical exploitation.

“People said: ‘Yeah you see, now we can confirm that Africans are guinea pigs,’” Mihigo said, noting that the affair did “a lot of damage”.

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Ousseynou Badiane, the head of Senegal’s vaccination programme, said that alongside access to vaccines, “fake news” posed one of the largest challenges to his country’s future campaign.

Much of the misinformation shared in Senegal originates in France, he added, which is the West African state’s former colonial ruler and one of the world’s most vaccine-hesitant countries.

Low trust
Cheikh Ibrahima Niang, a Senegalese professor of medical anthropology, said that the brutal legacy of the slave trade, plus a history of heavy-handed governments, may explain vaccine hesitancy.

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Scandals such as the deaths of 11 Nigerian children in 1996, after they were administered an experimental meningitis vaccine by Pfizer, have not been forgotten either, he told AFP.

African governments need to proactively engage vaccine-hesitant citizens, he said, in a sentiment echoed by other public-health experts.

Some are already doing so: Last week, Ethiopia launched a vaccine information campaign to allay concerns.

Some national leaders, such as Guinea’s President Alpha Conde, have also broadcast recordings of themselves receiving jabs.

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Ayoade Alakija, the vaccine-confidence campaigner, warned of particular difficulties in tackling misconceptions in countries where trust in government is low.

“There hasn’t been enough information,” she said.

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#Newsworthy

No Officer died of COVID-19 in Camp – NYSC DG says.

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The NYSC boss stressed that there are not NYSC members that are positive inside the camp as they were all tested before entry into the orientation camps.

National Youth Service Corps Officer Died At Isolation Center Not In Camp – DGRonke Idowu Updated February 3, 2021A photo collage of NYSC DG and NYSC members at a camp.

The Director-General of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brigadier General, Shuaibu Ibrahim, has reacted to claims that a top officer who was posted to the permanent orientation camp in Kano State died of COVID-19 in camp.

Ibrahim in an interview with NoRM’s known Media on Wednesday explained that the officer was tested before he entered the camp and was taken to the isolation center after he tested positive and eventually died in isolation.

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“It is not true that the officer died in the camp, in line with the PTF and NYSC guidelines all prospective corps members and camp officials that are invited for the orientation exercise were tested.

It is mandatory that all must be tested. It is only those that are negative that are allowed into the camp.

“Those that are positive are taken away by the NCDC and state officials for treatment and that was what happened.

The officer concerned just like any other NYSC officials underwent the test and when he was positive he was taken by the NCDC to Kano State isolation center and that was where, unfortunately, he passed on, not in the camp,” the DG explained.

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The NYSC boss stressed that there are not NYSC members that are positive inside the camp as they were all tested before entry into the orientation camps.

According to him, NYSC orientation camps across the country are supervised by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

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#Newsworthy

Panic in camps as NYSC resident officer dies of COVID-19.

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Another top officer of the service, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said staff of the NYSC in other camps, who had learnt about the development had started panicking.

Panic has erupted among the staff of National Youth Service Corps in the permanent orientation camp in Kano after one of the resident officers died of COVID-19.

Reports as it that the top official was transfferred to the permanent orientation camp in Kano few days ago where he develop symptoms of contracting the Novel virus before his death on Tuesday.

Confirming the cause of the officers death, a top officer of the NYSC told newsmen that the deceased officer was tested by doctors and officials of Nigeria Centre For Disease Control who confirmed that he died of COVID-19.

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The source said; “The resident officer, who was posted from the NYSC National Headquarters in Abuja to Kano State NYSC permanent orientation camp died early this (Tuesday) morning as a result of COVID-19.

“But very unfortunately, the NYSC management and the NCDC are trying to hide the case. The officer and representative of the DG was tested by the doctors and the NCDC who confirmed that the officer died as a result of COVID-19 in the camp. Right now, multiple numbers of the NCDC staff are in the camp.”

Another top officer of the service, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said staff of the NYSC in other camps, who had learnt about the development had started panicking.

Giving more insight into the officer’s death, Mgbemena said, “Indeed, NYSC lost an officer. In keeping with COVID – 19 protocols, everyone, including the DG, must subject themselves to COVID-19 test. Only those that test negative are allowed into the camps.

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“The officer in question was suspected of COVID-19. Accordingly, the NCDC took over the case. Sadly, he succumbed to the cold hands of death in the course of treatment. It is imperative to state that he did not step into the camp, neither did he die there too. May his soul rest in perfect peace.

“Everybody in the camp, including resource persons, camp market operators were tested for COVID – 19. There’s no COVID-19 positive person in the 37 camps of the NYSC nationwide.”

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: Foreign Airlines fault extra testing on fake results.

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Fayemi said was part of measures being put in place to contain the virus this year, adding that another batch of 60 million doses would arrive in 2022.

Travellers in Nigeria have expressed their displeasure with the additional safety protocol airlines, yesterday, blamed additional test measures currently imposed by some carriers on rampant cases of fake COVID-19 test results in Nigeria.

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Although the airlines apologised to customers for the discomfort and additional cost, they said the measure was their leeway to mitigate the spread of coronavirus and avert withdrawal from the Nigerian route.

However, the Federal Government is considering sanctions for Emirates and KLM airlines that currently enforced the mandatory antigen test on Nigerians before boarding.

This was after the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) granted approval for the antigen tests to be done at Lagos and Abuja airports.

Travellers in Nigeria have expressed their displeasure with the additional safety protocol, describing it as a rip-off on ‘the unprotected’ Nigerian consumers.

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The Guardian reported yesterday that foreign carriers have begun the enforcement of fresh safety protocols much to the discomfort of Nigerian travellers. National carriers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Netherlands, Emirates and KLM, have begun conducting mandatory antigen tests on Nigerian passengers, in addition to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test approved by the Federal Government and the global standard.

The test costs additional N25, 800 per traveller at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja and N36, 800 at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.

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Country Manager of one of the airlines said the antigen test was unavoidable, if they must sustain skeletal operations during the pandemic, saying the PCR tests “appear to have been compromised with a lot of suspicious outcomes.”

Chairman, Airline Passenger Joint Committee (APJC), Bankole Bernard, said Emirates and the other airlines were not at fault for disrespecting Nigerian travellers but for the Federal Government that has refused to live up to its responsibilities.

Bernard said he was aware of the fake test result claims, but insisted that that was government’s exclusive responsibility to rid the system of saboteurs.

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Meanwhile, the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) has urged the Federal Government to explore the potential of local manufacturing of vaccines, following technology transfer.

He disclosed that about 80 million doses of vaccines would soon be available in the country to immunise 40 per cent of the country’s population this year.

Fayemi said was part of measures being put in place to contain the virus this year, adding that another batch of 60 million doses would arrive in 2022.

Governor Fayemi stated this while delivering a paper on The Role Of Nigeria’s State Governments In Recovery: Responses To COVID-19 Linked Challenges at the Chatham House Africa Programme in the United Kingdom (UK).

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He canvassed increased investment in health security and public health emergencies by state governments with recommendation on the need to establish their own centres for disease control in the country.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is perhaps our biggest lesson around this, as it has affected all spheres of the economy. Nigeria now has a National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) that includes a multi-sectorial approach to combating pandemics on this nature,” he added.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: Doctors go on strike again.

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But the doctors under the auspices of Ondo Government Doctors Forum (OGDF) said they were not carried along by organised labour in reaching the deal.

Doctors employed under the radar of the Ondo State Government have begun an indefinite strike action over payment of 50 percent salary for the month of November, 2020

Organised labour in the state had last week agreed to collect the half salary as well as adopt the model in use by Local Government/SUBEB for future salary payment.

This was after Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu said borrowing to augment payment of salary was no longer sustainable in the state.

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Ondo Head of Service, Oluwadare Aragbaiye, displayed Federal Allocation receipts for the month of December, 2020 but shared in January 2021 in which the state allocation for the month of December was N2.3bn after deductions of government obligations whereas total gross salary (Net + deductions) payable to all categories of workers summed up to N5.21bn.

But the doctors under the auspices of Ondo Government Doctors Forum (OGDF) said they were not carried along by organised labour in reaching the deal.

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They said they were not members of organised labour in the state but professional bodies.

Spokesman for the OGDF, Dr. Omolayo Olubosede, who spoke after an emergency meeting of the forum said doctors cannot survive on 50 percent salary.

Dr. Olubosede said they have earlier written to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu intimating him of their plight but did not get any response.

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Olubosede stated that they would only resume work after payment of all salary arrears owed them, appointment of more doctors to replace those that left, implementation of Group Life Insurance amongst others.

She appealed to residents in the state to understand their plight during the period of the strike

Her words, “The payment of half salary was insensitive and unfortunate in the middle of a pandemic despite owing us four months.

“Doctors in Ondo are working under harsh condition. We cannot work from home. It is unfathomable that we are being paid half salary. We are not insensitive to the hardship this action will bring. It is our hope that the government get back to us.”

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Acting Commissioner for Health, Dr. JIbayo Adeyeye, said the letter written by the doctors did not give any notice of strike.

Dr. Adeyeye stated that the state government would engage the doctors so they would return to work as soon as possible.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: Pfizer estimates $15bn 2021 sale of vaccine.

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For all of 2020, Pfizer reported profits of $9.6 billion, down 41.4 percent from 2019, with revenues up two percent to $41.9 billion.

Sales of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech could reach up to $15 billion in 2021 and go higher if Pfizer signs additional supply contracts, Pfizer said Tuesday.

The projections came as Pfizer projected full-year 2021 sales of between $59.4 billion and $61.4 billion, meaning that about one-fourth of estimated total sales will come from the Covid-19 vaccine.

The forecast reflects “a continued recovery in macroeconomic and healthcare activity throughout 2021 as more of the population becomes vaccinated against Covid-19,” Pfizer said.

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“These assumptions are guided by the trajectory of current infection rates in many parts of the world and the expected timeline for broad access to effective vaccines.”

(FILES) In this file photo vials of undiluted Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine are prepared to administer to staff and residents at the Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads, a senior living community in Falls Church, Virginia, on December 30, 2020. – Sales of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech could reach up to $15 billion in 2021 and go higher if Pfizer signs additional supply contracts, Pfizer said on February 2, 2021. The projections came as Pfizer reported fourth-quarter and full-year profits and released forecasts for 2021. Pfizer projected full-year 2021 sales of between $44.4 to $46.4 billion, excluding sales for the Covid-19 vaccine. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

Pfizer reported fourth-quarter net income of $594 million, compared with a loss of $337 million in the year-ago period.

For all of 2020, Pfizer reported profits of $9.6 billion, down 41.4 percent from 2019, with revenues up two percent to $41.9 billion.

Pfizer’s fourth-quarter revenues included $154 million in sales of the Covid-19 vaccine.

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The vaccine began winning approval from authorities late last year. Pfizer said it expects it could potentially deliver up to 2 billion doses in 2021 based on several factors, including adding more suppliers and contract manufacturers.

Shares of Pfizer rose 0.5 percent to $35.94 in pre-market trading.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: Nigeria reports 676 cases; 21 new deaths.

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As COVID-19 cases increases everyday and death toll rises gently, total cases in Nigeria hits 131,918.

Nigeria reports 676 fresh COVID-19 cases as total death hit 1,607 and total recovery hit 106,275.

Lagos, Rivers and Niger records highest cases of 227, 73 and 69 respectively while Zamfara reports lowest case(s) of 2.

New cases of 676 were reported from 19 Nigerian states and the whole 36 states in Nigeria has part in above total cases.

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676 new cases of #COVID19Nigeria;

Lagos-227
Rivers-73
Niger-69
Plateau-56
FCT-50
Kano-44
Oyo-43
Ogun-27
Gombe-18
Ondo-15
Enugu-10
Osun-10
Cross River-8
Edo-8
Nasarawa-7
Bauchi-4
Kaduna-3
Ekiti-2
Zamfara-2

131,918 confirmed
106,275 discharged
1,607 deaths.

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#Newsworthy

Another deadly virus, dangerous than COVID-19 may root from China.

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The first cases of Nipah virus infection were identified in 1998, when an outbreak led to 105 deaths.

Areport by the Access to Medicine Foundation (ATMF) has revealed an outbreak of a more fatalistic virus than the coronavirus could be imminent even as pharmaceutical companies tend to neglect its threat while currently focusing COVID-19.

Jayasree K Iyer, executive director of the Netherlands-based Foundation points out that the Nipah virus, with a fatality rate of up to 75 percent, could be the next pandemic.

“Nipah virus is another emerging infectious disease that causes great concern. Nipah could blow any moment. The next pandemic could be a drug-resistant infection,” She said to NoRM‘s known Media.

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While there is no current outbreak of the virus, in 2018, an outbreak in southern India killed 17 people.

The virus, though rare, is spread by fruit bats and can cause flu-like symptoms and brain damage.

The report by ATMF monitors 20 major drug companies and places the Nipah Virus as one one of 10 infectious diseases classified by the WHO as the greatest public health risks.

In January, Moderna announced that it is creating new vaccines in new development programs.

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The development programs announced were vaccines to fight against the seasonal flu, HIV and the Nipah virus.

This development program is dependent on the company’s clinical successes against its infectious disease vaccines.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: South Africa receives first batch of Pfizer vaccine.

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Another half-a-million doses of the vaccine are expected later this month.

South Africa on Monday took delivery of its first shipment of coronavirus vaccines, a move paving the way to the first phase of inoculation in Africa’s worst-hit country.

Public broadcaster SABC showed President Cyril Ramaphosa at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International airport receiving one million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, produced by the Serum Institute of India.

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The jabs will be administered to some 1.2 million health workers, the key target in the first phase of vaccination.

Injections will start to be administered in about two weeks after the vaccines go through quarantine, regulatory and quality-control procedures.

(FILES) An undated handout picture released by the University of Oxford on November 23, 2020 shows a vial of the University’s COVID-19 candidate vaccine, known as AZD1222, co-invented by the University of Oxford and Vaccitech in partnership with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. – Britain on December 30, 2020 became the first country in the world to approve the coronavirus vaccine developed by drug firm AstraZeneca and Oxford University, with a mass rollout planned from January 4, 2021. (Photo by John Cairns / University of Oxford / AFP) / /

With at least 1.45 million detected infections and more than 44,000 fatalities, South Africa has the highest number of cases and deaths in Africa.

The authorities plan to vaccinate at least 67 percent of the population, or 40 million people, by year’s end.

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The government, which has been accused of being slow to acquire Covid vaccines, announced at the weekend that it had secured an additional 20 million doses — this time of the Pfizer/BioNTech formula.

South Africa’s outbreak has been accelerated by a new variant said to be more contagious than earlier strains of the virus.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: China pledges vaccines to 13 developing Countries

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38 more developing countries in need of the vaccines would receive China’s vaccine aid at a later stage.

China will continue to provide COVID-19 vaccines to other countries, especially the developing ones, in a timely manner within its capacity and contribute to the building of a community of health for all, official said.

The Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, disclosed this on Monday at a daily news briefing in Beijing.

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Wang said China had donated COVID-19 vaccines to Pakistan on Monday, saying that the first shipment of China’s vaccine aid to other countries.

Reiterating China’s commitment to making its COVID-19 vaccines a global public good once developed and put into use, Wang said China will contribute to achieving the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries.

“We act on our words.’’

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Besides Pakistan, China is also providing vaccine aid to 13 developing countries, including Brunei, Nepal, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Palestine, Belarus, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea.

He said that 38 more developing countries in need of the vaccines would receive China’s vaccine aid at a later stage.

“We are also participating actively in the WHO-led COVAX initiative to provide vaccines to developing countries,” the spokesperson added.

China has supported its companies in conducting joint research and production of vaccines with foreign partners and already exported Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines to countries including the UAE, Morocco, Indonesia, Turkey, Brazil, and Chile, Wang noted.

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Besides, China also supported relevant companies in exporting vaccines to countries that were in urgent need, recognised Chinese vaccines, and authorised the emergency use of Chinese vaccines in their countries, Wang said.

He added that China expected the international community to make joint efforts in promoting the equitable distribution and use of vaccines and ensure the availability and affordability of vaccines in developing countries.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: Pfizer pledges over 70,000,000 additional doses to EU.

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These included the completion of modifications at Pfizer’s plant in Puurs, Belgium.

BioNTech and Pfizer said Monday they will ramp up their coronavirus vaccine deliveries to the European Union, pledging to send up to 75 million extra doses to the bloc in the spring.

“Pfizer and BioNTech continue to work toward increased deliveries beginning the week of February 15, ensuring we will supply the full quantity of vaccine doses in the first quarter we contractually committed to and up to an additional 75 million doses to the European Union in the second quarter,” they said in a statement.

The EU has ordered a total of 600 million doses of their Comirnaty vaccine.

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The statement came hours ahead of a national conference called by Chancellor Angela Merkel with vaccine manufacturers amid growing anger over the bloc’s sluggish inoculation campaign.

BioNTech and Pfizer, which will take part in the meeting, said that improvements in their production capabilities would allow them to speed up supplies.

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These included the completion of modifications at Pfizer’s plant in Puurs, Belgium. “Now, we are back to the original schedule of vaccine dose deliveries,” they said.

A healthcare professional draws up a dose of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to be adminstered at a vaccination centre set up at Thornton Little Theatre managed by Wyre Council in Thornton-Cleveleys, northwest England, on January 29, 2021 as Britain’s coronavirus vaccination campaign continues. – Britain on Friday claimed its streamlined approach to developing Covid vaccines and support for biotech firms helped it to steal a march on other countries still struggling to implement a roll-out. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)

BioNTech’s manufacturing site in the German city of Marburg has meanwhile received a licence to start production this month, as the companies have expanded their network of European supply partners to 13.

“We’re further strengthening this network, and are now in discussions with additional qualified partners on potential new agreements,” they said.

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Their announcement in mid-January that they would delay shipments of the jabs due to the necessary modifications at the Puurs factory sparked ire across the bloc.

Germany at the time urged the European Commission — which undertook joint procurement for the bloc — to “seek clarity and certainty” for upcoming shipments.

And six northern EU nations warned in a letter to the Commission that the “unacceptable” situation “decreases the credibility of the vaccination process”.

The news was followed last week by an announcement from British-Swedish company AstraZeneca that it could deliver only a quarter of the doses originally promised to the bloc this winter because of problems at one of its European factories.

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In the face of a political firestorm, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said Sunday that AstraZeneca had now agreed to increase its coronavirus vaccine deliveries to the EU by 30 percent.

An EU source said the first deliveries would start in the second week of February.

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#Newsworthy