India Vaccinates 10 Million In One Day

A child uses a mobile device to attend an online class at the premises of her home amid the ongoing Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic in Hyderabad on July 26, 2021. (Photo by Noah SEELAM / AFP)

 

 

India has given more than 10 million COVID-19 jabs in a single day for the first time, authorities said Saturday, as the South Asian giant bolsters its defences for a predicted new surge.

The health ministry said the 10 million landmark was passed on Friday, beating the country’s previous daily record of 9.2 million. The government has been stung by criticism after a brutal coronavirus wave in April and May killed more than 200,000 people.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the milestone as a “momentous feat” for the nation of 1.3 billion people.

“Kudos to those getting vaccinated and those making the vaccination drive a success,” he said on Twitter.

The government had aimed to vaccinate about 1.1 billion adults by the end of the year but shortages, administrative confusion and hesitancy have held back numbers. Only around 15 percent have had two doses since the drive began in January.

India’s daily infection count has dropped dramatically since the devastating surge in April-May which overwhelmed its creaking health infrastructure.

Almost all restrictions on movement and activity have been lifted even though experts have warned of a new wave hitting as early as next month as the festival season starts.

Daily case numbers have started rising again above 40,000 and more than 500 deaths were reported on Saturday. The 46,000 new cases reported Saturday was the highest figure in two months. Much of the spike has been blamed on a surge in the southern state of Kerala.

India is currently administering three vaccines — the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, known locally as Covishield, Covaxin by Indian firm Bharat Biotech and the Russian-made Sputnik V.

The country has so far recorded 437,370 deaths and more than 32 million infections, the second-highest in the world after the United States. Experts say that because of under-reporting, India’s true toll could be more than four times higher.

Vaccines Effective Against Variants But Overseas Travel Still Not Safe: WHO

Empty vials of different vaccines by Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca against Covid-19 caused by the novel coronavirus are pictured at the vaccination center in Rosenheim, southern Germany, on April 20, 2021, amid the novel coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic.
Christof STACHE / AFP

 

 

Progress against the coronavirus pandemic remains “fragile” and international travel should be avoided, the World Health Organization’s Europe director warned on Thursday but stressed that authorised vaccines do work against variants of concern.

“Right now, in the face of a continued threat and new uncertainty, we need to continue to exercise caution, and rethink or avoid international travel,” Hans Kluge said, adding that “pockets of increasing transmission” on the continent could quickly spread.

The so-called Indian variant, which may be more transmissible, has now been identified in at least 26 of the 53 countries in the WHO Europe region, Kluge said during his weekly press conference.

But he said that authorised vaccines are effective against the new strain.

“All Covid-19 virus variants that have emerged so far do respond to the available, approved vaccines,” Kluge said, adding that all Covid-19 variants can be controlled with the same public health and social measures used until now.

So far only 23 percent of people in the region have received a vaccine dose, with just 11 percent having had both doses, Kluge said, as he warned citizens to continue to exercise caution.

“Vaccines may be a light at the end of the tunnel, but we cannot be blinded by that light,” he said.

Free Beer And Doughnuts To Promote COVID-19 Vaccines In US

A health worker prepares a dose to inoculate a woman with the Covaxin Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at a school-turned-vaccination centre in New Delhi on May 5, 2021.
Tauseef MUSTAFA / AFP

 

 

Free beer, free doughnuts, savings bonds — government officials and businesses are teaming up to encourage Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

President Joe Biden wants 70 percent of adults to have received at least one shot by Independence Day on July 4 and overcoming vaccine hesitancy is key to reaching the goal.

“We know there are millions of Americans who need a little bit of encouragement to get the shot,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Tuesday.

Some 56 percent of American adults — more than 145 million people — have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine but the pace of vaccination has been declining lately.

Federal, state and local officials are partnering with pharmacies, restaurants, breweries, supermarkets and sports teams to come up with incentives to get people to get their shots.

In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy launched a “Shot and a Beer” program to encourage vaccination.

“Any New Jerseyan who gets their first vaccine dose in the month of May and takes their vaccination card to a participating brewery will receive a free beer,” Murphy tweeted.

The offer is only open, of course, to residents of the “Garden State” who are over the age of 21, the legal drinking age in the United States.

Governor Ned Lamont of the state of Connecticut unveiled a similar “Free Drink” promotion with participating restaurants last month.

In Washington, Mayor Muriel Bowser urged residents of the nation’s capital to “come get vaccinated and grab a beer, on us” at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

– ‘Motivate them’ –
In West Virginia, Governor Jim Justice announced that the state will offer $100 savings bonds to residents aged 16 to 35 who get vaccinated.

“Our kids today probably don’t really realize just how important they are in shutting this thing down,” Justice said. “I’m trying to come up with a way that’s truly going to motivate them -– and us -– to get over the hump.”

“They’re not taking vaccines as fast as we’d like them to take them,” Justice said. “If we really want to move the needle, we’ve got to get our younger people vaccinated.”

In Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan said state employees who get vaccinated will receive $100.

They also must agree to receive any booster shots recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or they will have to reimburse the $100.

“Incentives like this are another way to reinforce the importance of getting vaccinated, and we strongly encourage businesses across the state to consider offering incentives to their workers as well,” Hogan said.

Krispy Kreme is offering a free glazed doughnut to anyone who presents their Covid-19 vaccination card at one of its stores.

According to a survey conducted in March by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 25 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 are adopting a “wait and see” attitude towards being vaccinated.

Among US adults, 61 percent said they had been vaccinated or intended to do so as soon as possible while 17 percent said they were adopting a “wait and see” approach and 13 percent said they will “definitely not” get vaccinated.

J&J COVID-19 Vaccine Manufacturing Halted At Plant That Ruined Doses

(FILES) This file illustration photograph taken on November 17, 2020, shows vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached and syringes with the logo of US pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

 

 

 

The US Food and Drug Administration requested that production of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine be halted at a factory that previously reportedly ruined about 15 million doses of the shot.

The pharmaceutical giant told AFP at the end of March it had identified a batch of doses at a plant in Baltimore run by Emergent BioSolutions “that did not meet quality standards,” but did not confirm the specific number affected.

The New York Times later reported the batch consisted of about 15 million doses.

Emergent BioSolutions said in a regulatory Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Monday that the FDA had requested a pause on April 16 in production of the single-shot vaccine pending an inspection at the Baltimore, Maryland facility.

“On April 16, 2021, at the request of the FDA, Emergent agreed not to initiate the manufacturing of any new material at its Bayview facility and to quarantine existing material manufactured at the Bayview facility pending completion of the inspection and remediation of any resulting findings,” the filing said.

Johnson & Johnson had said in March it was sending more experts to the site to oversee vaccine production, and that it expected to deliver 24 million additional shots through April.

The Emergent BioSolutions plant had not been authorized by US regulators at the time to manufacture a “drug substance” for the J&J vaccine, the pharmaceutical company said, but US media reported that it was expected to produce tens of millions of doses in the near future.

The J&J vaccine won praise for its single dosage and because it does not need to be frozen — unlike the shots from Moderna and Pfizer — making distribution much simpler.

The manufacturing pause is the latest setback for the vaccine in the United States, as regulators temporarily halted its use after authorities reported six cases of women developing blood clots along with low blood platelet counts, including one death, within two weeks of getting the J&J shot.

Europe’s medicines regulator is expected to rule Tuesday on the J&J vaccine’s safety, after its European use was also put on hold over blood clot fears.

EU Backs Pfizer Storage At Regular Freezer Temperature

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 15, 2021 vials of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19, stored at -70 ° in a super freezer of the hospital of Le Mans, northwestern France as the country carry on a vaccination campaign to fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus.  (Photo by JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP)

 

 

Vials of Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine can be kept at normal freezer temperatures for short periods instead of in ultra-cold storage, the EU’s drugs regulator said Friday.

The change would help the “rapid roll-out” of vaccines across Europe, where vaccination campaigns are stalling due to supply and logistical issues, the European Medicines Agency said in a statement.

The EU regulator had “given a positive opinion to allow transportation and storage of vials of this vaccine at temperatures between -25 to -15 degrees Celsius (-13 to 5 Fahrenheit)… for a one-off period of two weeks.”

The EMA said this was the “temperature of standard pharmaceutical freezers”

“This is an alternative to the long-term storage of the vials at a temperature between -90 to -60 degrees Celsius in special freezers” the Amsterdam-based watchdog added in a statement.

“It is expected to facilitate the rapid roll-out and distribution of the vaccine in the EU by reducing the need for ultra-low temperature cold storage conditions throughout the supply chain.”

The US made a similar decision about the Pfizer vaccine on February 25.

The Pfizer vaccine’s high effectiveness against coronavirus has been tempered by the difficulty of storing and transporting the jab due to the need for super-cold conditions.

Freezer Firm To Launch Probe After Japan Vaccines Spoiled

An employee opens an ultra low-temperature freezer at a cold room of the Bexen Medical company facilities in the Spanish Basque city of Hernani, on November 18, 2020, where the Basque Country will store the vaccine for COVID-19 by Pfizer pharmaceutical laboratory after its expected arrival on December 26, 2020. 
ANDER GILLENEA / AFP

 

 

Japan said Tuesday an investigation would be launched after more than 1,000 coronavirus vaccine doses had to be thrown out when a freezer storing them malfunctioned.

A medical institution reported that 172 vials of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which must be kept between -80 and -60 degrees centigrade, were rendered useless after the freezer breakdown over the weekend, Japan’s health ministry said, wasting up to 1,032 doses.

Japan began its inoculation programme on February 17 — just over five months before the Tokyo Olympics — and has so far only approved the Pfizer/BioNTech drug.

Japanese government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said Tuesday that the cause of the malfunction was not yet clear, but the firm that installed the freezer would investigate and report back.

Kato said Japan had installed around 100 vaccine freezers nationwide by the end of February.

“We would like to respond quickly to whatever is necessary, based on what the results of the investigation carried out by the company that installed it,” Kato said.

Japan began vaccinating healthcare workers in mid-February, with the minister in charge of the process admitting he had “no idea” how much of the population would receive the jab before the Olympics, which start on July 23.

As of March 1, it had administered first doses to nearly 32,000 doctors and nurses, according to vaccine minister Taro Kono.

The country has reached deals with three major drug firms to buy enough doses for its population of 126 million.

But it was also scrambling to secure enough special syringes needed to extract six full doses from each vial of the Pfizer vaccine.

Japan is running a cautious rollout programme and is planning to initially vaccinate 40,000 healthcare workers across the country, before administering jabs to around 3.7 million more in March.

Vaccines for around 36 million people aged 65 or older are set to start from April.

COVID-19: India Starts Massive Vaccine Rollout

A medical worker inoculates a doctor with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the King Koti hospital in Hyderabad on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Noah SEELAM / AFP)

 

India began one of the world’s biggest coronavirus vaccination programmes on Saturday, hoping to end a pandemic that has killed 150,000 people in the country and torpedoed the economy.

AFP looks at the numbers involved in the vast and complex undertaking compounded by weak infrastructure, online hoaxes and worries about one of the vaccines being rolled out while still in clinical trials.

300 million people

Over the coming months, India aims to inoculate around a quarter of the population, or 300 million people. They include healthcare workers, people aged over 50 and those at high risk.

On the first day, around 300,000 people were set to be vaccinated at 3,000 centres. About 150,000 staff in 700 districts have been trained to administer jabs and keep records.

 

A medical worker prepares to inoculate a colleague with a Covid-19 vaccine at the King Koti hospital in Hyderabad on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Noah SEELAM / AFP)

The government aims to manage the entire process digitally with its own app, CoWIN, which will link every vaccine dose to its recipient.

45,000 fridges (and one bike)

India has four “mega depots” to take delivery of the vaccines and transport them to state distribution hubs in temperature-controlled vans, keeping the doses colder than 8 degrees Celsius (46.4 Fahrenheit).

A total of 29,000 cold-chain points, 240 walk-in coolers, 70 walk-in freezers, 45,000 ice-lined refrigerators, 41,000 deep freezers and 300 solar fridges are at the ready.

These will be needed once the Indian summer arrives in the coming months.

In one recent practice run in a rural area, a consignment of dummy vaccines was photographed being delivered by bicycle.

 

A medical worker inoculates a colleague with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in New Delhi on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Prakash SINGH / AFP)

 

Three seconds

To stop any of the vials being stolen and being sold on India’s large drugs black market, authorities are taking no chances, with armed police guarding every truck.

CCTVs are in place at warehouses with entry subject to fingerprint authentication. Automated data loggers will monitor storage temperature and transfer messages every three seconds to a central unit, according to the Times of India.

“Security measures are essential to not only address the issue of logistics and safety but also build confidence in people that the supply chain is intact, unbroken and safe to the point of delivery,” Preeti Kumar, a public health specialist, told AFP.

200 rupees per dose

India has ordered an initial 11 million doses of Covishield, AstraZeneca’s vaccine made by India’s Serum Institute, at 200 rupees ($2.74) each, and 5.5 million doses of Covaxin at 206 rupees each.

The government’s “emergency approval” of Covaxin, made by India’s Bharat Biotech, has some doctors worried because phase 3 human trials are yet to be completed.

With Covaxin still in “clinical trial mode”, Indians being given the shot on Saturday were given a consent form to sign that made clear that its “clincal efficacy… is yet to be established”.

Authorities say people will be given two doses of one of the vaccines — and not one of each — 28 days apart. Effectiveness begins 14 days after the second shot, they say.

Serum plans later to sell the jab privately to Indian individuals and firms for 1,000 rupees ($14), raising fears that the rich will get inoculated sooner.

 

A medical worker inoculates an ASHA worker with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the King Koti hospital in Hyderabad on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Noah SEELAM / AFP)

 

69 percent in no hurry

A recent survey of 18,000 people across India found that 69 percent were in no rush to get a Covid-19 shot, in part due to public scepticism fuelled by online disinformation.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan took to social media on Thursday to dispel some of the doubts.

“There is no scientific evidence to suggest that #COVIDVaccine could cause infertility in either men or women. Kindly do not pay heed to such rumours or information from unverified sources,” he said in one tweet.

And one Brazilian plane

Other developing countries are banking on India for getting vaccines, and Brazil wanted to send a plane to India this weekend to collect two million doses from Serum.

But President Jair Bolsonaro said Friday that “political pressure” by India had postponed the flight. Serum chief Adar Poonawalla told the Times of India it would supply Brazil in two weeks.

India plans to offer 20 million doses to its neighbours, with the first batches shipped over the next two weeks, Bloomberg News reported. Latin America, Africa and ex-Soviet republics will be next.

Harris Vaccinated On Camera, Urges Public To Trust Process

Registered nurse Patricia Cummings administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on December 29, 2020 at the United Medical Center in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Edelman / AFP)

 

US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received her COVID vaccine live on television Tuesday and urged public trust in the process, while her choice of hospital highlighted the plight of the hard-hit African-American community.

A mask-wearing Harris received the first of her two shots at United Medical Center, located in an area of Washington, DC with a large African-American population.

African-American communities nationwide have seen disproportionately high levels of death and illness related to the Covid-19 pandemic, while polls have also indicated they are among the most reluctant to get vaccinated.

“So I want to remind people that right in your community is where you can take the vaccine, where you will receive the vaccine by folks you may know,” she said after receiving the vaccine manufactured by US firm Moderna.

“So I want to remind people that they have trusted sources of help and that’s where they will be able to go to get the vaccine.”

Harris will become the first Black and Indian-American vice president when she takes office on January 20, as well as the first woman in the role.

Her husband Doug Emhoff was also to be vaccinated.

A string of public officials have been vaccinated before cameras as part of efforts to overcome public skepticism and convince those in doubt that the immunizations are vital to returning to a semblance of normality in the months ahead.

President-elect Joe Biden was vaccinated live on television on December 21.

Outgoing President Donald Trump, who was hospitalized with the virus in October, has not committed to being vaccinated.

Trump has repeatedly downplayed the dangerousness of the virus and urged business and school reopenings despite its surge nationwide.

The United States has registered some 19.3 million cases and more than 335,000 deaths related to the virus, both the world’s highest, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

First COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Arrive In France

An empty syringe on a table at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Westwood, California on December 16, 2020. (Photo by Brian van der Brug / POOL / AFP)

 

France’s first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine were delivered early Saturday to the Paris hospital system’s central pharmacy outside the capital, an AFP journalist saw.

After more than 62,000 Covid-19 deaths in France, shots are set to begin with people in two elderly care homes on Sunday, the same day the rest of the EU begins injections.

A refrigerated truck brought the roughly 19,500 doses from the Pfizer factory in Puurs, northeast Belgium, to Paris, the capital’s APHP hospital authority said, with pharmacy chief Franck Huet calling it a “historic” moment in the pandemic.

After repackaging in Paris, the vaccines will be delivered to a long-term care unit at a hospital in Sevran, outside the capital, and an old-age care home in Dijon, in eastern France.

The first EU deliveries come after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gave the Pfizer-BioNTech shot its green light on Monday and France’s HAS health authority in turn on Thursday.

Countries are especially eager to begin their vaccination campaigns as a new strain believed to be more infectious spreads from Britain. A first case was identified in France on Friday.

But large-scale inoculations for residents and staff in France’s 7,000 elderly care homes will not begin until early 2021.

US Sets 24-Hour Record With Over 3,700 Coronavirus Deaths, 250,000 New Cases

Nurse Eunice Lee prepares to give an injection of the COVID-19 vaccine to a health care worker at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Westwood, California on December 16, 2020. (Photo by Brian van der Brug / POOL / AFP)

 

The United States set a grim double record Wednesday notching more than 3,700 deaths and more than 250,000 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The country has seen a spectacular spike in COVID infections for more than a month now, with some 113,000 people currently hospitalized due to the virus, also a new record, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.

The tally marks the third time in the past week that the United States has crossed the 3,000 deaths threshold. The previous 24-hour record was set in late April at the height of the country’s first wave — which never totally ended.

Over the last two weeks, the number of new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours has climbed above 200,000 for 11 out of 14 days.

Wednesday’s exact death toll was 3,784 fatalities over the previous 24 hours leading up to 8:30 pm (0130 GMT Thursday).

 

An empty syringe on a table at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Westwood, California on December 16, 2020. (Photo by Brian van der Brug / POOL / AFP)

 

Health officials had feared the US Thanksgiving holiday in late November would lead to a fresh outbreak of the novel coronavirus after millions of Americans traveled to join friends and family.

Experts now fear the situation will become even more dire following end of year celebrations, including the Christmas holiday.

The latest records were set even as the United States undergoes its first week of a mass vaccination program aimed at stopping the surging pandemic.

On Monday the first Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine injections were administered in the United States, although authorities warn it will still be months before a large enough portion of the population is immunized.

Faced with the urgency of the situation and fears of vaccine shortages, the US Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that six or even seven doses could be squeezed out of vials that were supposed to contain only five doses to avoid unused vaccine being discarded.

“At this time, given the public health emergency, FDA is advising that it is acceptable to use every full dose obtainable,” it said in a tweet, adding that Pfizer was on board with the recommendation.

Nigeria Records It’s Highest Daily COVID-19 Infections

Doctors (Front and Rear L) from MEDU organization (Doctors for Human Rights) perform health checks at the Tiburtina train station on November 25, 2020 in Rome, as part of a MEDU mobile team series of free health checks. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

 

Nigeria recorded a new high with a tally of 72,140 confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday as the country enters reaches a milestone since the first case of coronavirus (COVID-19).

This new phase which brings a surge in coronavirus cases has the Presidential Task Force (PTF)  warning about the potential of getting even worse if the necessary guidelines are not followed religiously.

With the possibility of a second wave, the Federal Government on Thursday ordered the reopening of all isolation and treatment centres in the country.

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, at a Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing, said the move was to prepare the country for a possible second wave of the pandemic buttressing that everyone had a role to play in the effort to prevent the omnipresent risk of spread of the infection in the country.

The 796 new cases were reported from 16 states: FCT (258), Lagos (248), Kaduna (117), Katsina (52), Ogun (27), Kwara (23), Gombe (22), Adamawa (17), Plateau (15), Kano (6), Rivers (2), Ondo (2), Ekiti (2), Nasarawa (2), Sokoto (2) and Taraba (1).

Following the trend, Abuja and Lagos, the two cities with the highest number of infections, led in Friday’s count with 258 and 248 new cases respectively – more than half of the total.

Data from the NCDC website shows that the country has progressed from a little over 61,000 cases in October to over 72,000 cases by December these numbers show a steady infection which is the opposite of what the NCDC and the PTF is trying to achieve.

The severity of the pandemic has reached new heights as the country heads into the yuletide season, which is known to have family and friends come back to the country and host an array of events that could prove fatal if the guidelines for the disease are not adhered to.

The PTF has also advised Nigerians to suspend their Christmas and New Year travels to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.

However, there is optimism in the treatment of the virus as at least two vaccines have shown over 90 percent effectiveness during trials, according to the manufacturers.

Nigeria has so far tested over 830,000 of its 200 million population for the virus.

UNGA Debate: President Buhari Advocates Supply Of Safe Coronavirus Vaccines

President Muhammadu Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday at the UN General Assembly Debate advocated for a safe and effective supply of Coronavirus vaccines to all parts of the world.

He also assured that Nigeria will continue to partner with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and some countries to ensure accelerated development.

This was disclosed in a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: We Have Commenced Distribution Of Palliatives Worth N10.9 Billion – Buhari

Adesina in the statement added that President Buhari also spoke concerning terrorism and counter-terrorism and urged world leaders to redouble efforts to ensure collective security.

See the full statement below:

 

AT UNGA GENERAL DEBATE, PRESIDENT BUHARI ADVOCATES UNINHIBITED SUPPLY OF SAFE CORONAVIRUS VACCINES TO ALL

Nigeria will continue to partner with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and some countries to ensure accelerated development and manufacturing, as well as the uninhibited supply of safe and effective Coronavirus vaccines to all, President Muhammadu Buhari declared Tuesday.

Delivering Nigeria’s National Statement, via video-message, on the first day of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly Debate, President Buhari pledged Nigeria’s commitment to working with member states in the spirit of global cooperation and solidarity to promote human health and general well-being.

The theme of this year’s General Assembly is ”The Future We Want, The United Nations We Need: Reaffirming Our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism- Confronting Coronavirus Through Effective Multilateral Action.”

The President described the theme of the General Assembly as most appropriate and timely, noting that it captures the common desire for a renewed and revitalised organisation in need of multilateral approaches to the many challenges facing the world.

”As we reflect on the future we want and the United Nations we need, we must realise that the people of the world not only look up to us: they count on us.

”If the United Nations system cannot mobilise the world to marshal out a truly effective and inclusive response to the coronavirus pandemic, then the United Nations would have failed in the core mission of giving expression, direction and solution to the yearnings of the international community.

”The future we want must guarantee human rights, human dignity, human prospects and prosperity. The principles of ‘Leaving No One Behind and Doing No Harm’ must be expressed through accountability, strategic growth initiatives and elimination of threats of all kinds,” he said.

President Buhari noted that in the quest to provide a future of hope and prosperity for all Nigerians, his administration had embarked on measures to ensure national resilience.

”We intend to achieve this through the implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan and the Medium Term National Development for the period 2020-2025 and 2026-2030.

”We expect that these ambitious initiatives will deliver sustainable economic growth and development to Nigeria,” he said.

On confronting the Coronavirus pandemic, the Nigerian leader, who stressed the need for effective multilateral actions, expressed concern that the pandemic has devastated the world economy, straining the capabilities of the health systems of many countries, including Nigeria.

”In the aftermath of the Coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria, we prioritised vulnerable groups, including women, children, older persons and the unemployed, in our efforts to provide medical and social assistance to cushion the socio-economic effects of the disease.

”Accordingly, we have expanded our National Social Register, to include an additional 1 million Nigerians. Our National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) has been the vehicle for reaching out to the poor and vulnerable members of the Nigerian population, as well as providing cover for over 12 million households,” he said.

Commending the efforts of the UN and the WHO in combating the pandemic, President Buhari noted with appreciation the 2 billion dollars Global Response Plan launched by the UN Secretary-General to fund the coronavirus response in the poorest countries.

The President also commended the Secretary-General’s call for a cease-fire in conflict areas to enable humanitarian assistance reach groups vulnerable to Coronavirus.

On poverty eradication in Nigeria, the President said in order to mitigate its impact, his administration had commenced the disbursement of N10.9 billion to households on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises as palliatives.

In addition, he said a N500 billion fiscal stimulus package and sustained delivery of humanitarian and social interventions to poor and vulnerable households have been established, while the Central Bank of Nigeria launched a N3.5 trillion-stimulus package to boost manufacturing and facilitate import substitution.

The Nigerian leader urged the international community to cooperate in addressing the scourge of poverty, particularly in developing countries.

In this regard, he commended the President of the 74th General Assembly, Prof Tijjani Muhammad-Bande of Nigeria, for launching an Alliance for Poverty Eradication in June.

He enjoined global leaders, particularly from the global North, to support the Alliance at a time when the COVID-19 is reversing gains made in the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and pushing an additional half a billion people into extreme poverty.

On disarmament, international peace and security, President Buhari said Nigeria remains deeply concerned over the illicit trade, transfer and circulation of small arms and light weapons, particularly on the continent of Africa.

He called on the international community to renew efforts to stem this traffic and promote the Arms Trade Treaty in order to codify accountability in the battle against trans-border crimes, including terrorism and acts of piracy.

On terrorism and counter-terrorism, the President urged world leaders to redouble efforts to ensure collective security, noting that the litany of sophisticated terrorist attacks across the globe is a harsh reality of the challenges the world is facing today.

”In Nigeria, we are still facing violent extremism from the insurgency of Boko Haram and bandits.

”We continue to count on our strong cooperation with UN Counter-Terrorism bodies and neighbouring countries to overcome the terrorists in the Lake Chad Basin and the wider Sahel region.

”We will vigorously sustain the rehabilitation, reconstruction and resettlement of victims of terrorism and insurgency in the North East. The North-East Development Commission has been established for that purpose,” he said.

On illicit financial flows, President Buhari declared that the global aspiration to recover from the impact of COVID-19 will not be fully met without addressing structures that make it more difficult for countries to generate and retain their financial resources.

In this regard, the President again thanked Prof. Muhammad-Bande as well as the immediate past President of the Economic and Social Council, Ambassador Mona Jul, for jointly launching the High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) for Achieving the 2030 Agenda.

President Buhari’s video speech at the opening session of the General Assembly Debate also touched other issues of interest to Nigeria ranging from SDGs, nuclear disarmament, climate change and migration to human rights, women empowerment and gender parity, quality education and the United Nations reform.

On climate change, the President reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to the revitalisation of Lake Chad, saying:

”We are convinced that recharging the Lake will improve the living conditions of our people in the area, promote inter-state cooperation, strengthen community resilience and assist in addressing environmental and security challenges threatening the region and its resources.”

The Nigerian leader, therefore, renewed his call for international support for the regional efforts to raise 50 billion dollars required to actualise this initiative.

On quality education, President Buhari announced that Nigeria will be hosting the 4th International Conference on Safe Schools in 2021.

”Quality education for all is the cornerstone of sustainable development.

”I invite you all to Nigeria to participate in the Conference which aims to advocate for the protection of education from attack as we work together towards the future we want,” he said.

President Buhari ended his speech at the virtual event by reaffirming Nigeria’s commitment to promoting international peace and security and sustainable development, as well as strengthening partnerships and cooperation with international organisations.

 

Femi Adesina

Special Adviser to the President

(Media & Publicity)

September 22, 2020