Teen pop sensation Olivia Rodrigo said Wednesday she is “in awe” of White House efforts to get Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 and said getting the shot was “easy.”
Rodrigo, who has some 28 million social media followers, is adding star power to the Biden administration attempt to lure young people to vaccination centers.
The singer and Disney actress was meeting President Joe Biden and his top coronavirus advisor Anthony Fauci and will record videos to encourage youth vaccinations.
“I’m in awe of the work President Biden and Dr Fauci have done,” Rodrigo, 18, said alongside Press Secretary Jen Psaki at the start of the daily White House media briefing.
“It’s important to have conversations with friends and family members, encouraging all communities to get vaccinated,” she said. This can be done “more easily than ever before, given how many sites we have and how easy it is to find them.”
Rodrigo “offered to come” to the White House, Psaki said, to deliver a message to fans that “getting vaccinated is a way to keep yourself safe, a way to ensure you can see your friends, a way you can go to concerts.”
After a strong period of vaccination drives across the United States the pace has slacked off, with young people among the main groups failing to get their shots.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 percent of the US population has been fully vaccinated and 55.5 percent have received at least one dose.
The general in charge of coordinating Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign has left his post in the Public Health Agency as he is being investigated by the military, the Department of National Defence said Friday.
Formerly, commander of the NATO mission in Iraq, Major-General Dany Fortin has left his public health assignment “pending the results of a military investigation,” authorities said in a brief statement, without elaborating.
Fortin was appointed last November by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to coordinate the logistics of the largest vaccination campaign in Canadian history.
The Canadian military is responsible, in collaboration with the public health agency, for distributing the vaccine in remote communities of this vast country.
The military has been shaken in recent months by a series of investigations into high-ranking officers accused of sexual misconduct.
They include retired general Jonathan Vance, a former chief of the defense staff, who has denied the allegations against him.
His successor, Admiral Art McDonald, left office a few weeks after his appointment, following the opening of an investigation into similar charges.
Last month, the Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan instructed Louise Arbour, a prosecutor before the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and for the former Yugoslavia, to conduct an independent investigation into the handling of sexual harassment cases within the military.
Vaccination centres in parts of India turned people away on Thursday and large parts of the country reportedly ran low on doses, just as infections rose at their fastest rate since the pandemic began.
A second wave has hit India with a vengeance in recent weeks, with a record 126,000 new infections in the past 24 hours, more than 10 times rates seen in February. About 1.8 million fresh cases have been reported since March 1.
The government is desperate to avoid a new lockdown but several regions have tightened curbs, with the current epicentre Maharashtra set to enter a weekend shutdown. Tamil Nadu on Thursday was the latest state to announce restrictions.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted after receiving his second shot on Thursday that vaccines are “among the few ways we have to defeat the virus”. He urged others to follow his lead by getting vaccinated.
But the world’s biggest vaccination programme is reportedly experiencing problems having administered 87 million shots so far in a population of 1.3 billion people.
According to the Times of India, 10 states that are collectively home to more than 700 million people have stocks for only three or four more days including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.
In Maharashtra, which includes megacity Mumbai, the state health minister warned on Wednesday that supplies would run out in three days unless replenished.
“We are having to tell people that since vaccine supplies have not arrived, they should go home,” Rajesh Tope told reporters.
– ‘Very worried’ –
Major vaccination centres in Mumbai were running out of doses Thursday, with the huge Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital stopping inoculations altogether.
At a government-run vaccination centre in the Mumbai neighbourhood of Dharavi, India’s largest slum, long queues formed.
Afrin Sultana Khan, in charge of the facility, warned it would only be able to vaccinate another 440 people — its daily average — before shutting shop.
“Obviously we are very worried,” the doctor told AFP.
Retiree Rajesh Kumar, 68, awaiting his second dose at one of Mumbai’s top private hospitals, told AFP his appointment was cancelled at the last minute.
“Any sensible government would have rushed vaccines to Maharashtra by now,” he said.
A city official in IT hub Bangalore told AFP is set to run out of vaccines this weekend with a shipment of one million doses five days late.
Sources in Andhra Pradesh state told AFP has doses for only three more days. Two districts have already run out and vaccination centres were turning people away. No new supplies are expected for a week.
– ‘Utterly baseless’ –
However, federal health minister Harsh Vardhan said late Wednesday that many states were trying to “distract attention from their failures and spread panic among the people”.
Allegations of shortages in Maharashtra were “utterly baseless”, he said.
“Vaccine supplies are being monitored on a real-time basis, and state governments are being apprised regularly about it.”
Ajay Ghai, a senior health official in Uttar Pradesh, said “vaccine supplies are happening on a rolling basis and so is the replenishment. There is no shortage at all.”
The head of India’s Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine maker by volume, said on Tuesday that production capacity was “very stressed”.
Poorer countries, as well as some rich nations, have relied heavily on Serum for supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine but last month New Delhi put the brakes on exports to prioritise domestic needs.
“Perhaps shortages and possibility of future shortages are being amplified for political reasons, but it is undeniable that we don’t have as many doses as we would ideally want to,” public health expert Oommen C. Kurian at the Observer Research Foundation told AFP.
“It is not an India problem; it is a world problem.”
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday received the first dose of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, just two days after authorities recommended use of the controversial jab only for people aged 60 and over.
“I trust the vaccines authorised in Germany,” Steinmeier, 65, said in a statement after getting inoculated at Berlin’s Military Hospital.
“Vaccinating is the decisive step on the path out of the pandemic. Use the opportunities available. Join in!” he added.
German officials have been at pains to shore up public confidence in AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which has been on a rollercoaster ride in Europe.
Germany’s STIKO vaccine commission on Tuesday said it recommended use of the jab only for people 60 and older following concerns over several blood clotting cases among younger recipients of the vaccine.
People under the age of 60 can still take AstraZeneca in consultation with their doctor and if they are fully aware of the potential risks.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn, who is 40 years old, told reporters Thursday that he would be willing to take AstraZeneca “when it’s my turn”.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, 66, has also said she would be happy to be inoculated with the Anglo-Swedish company’s vaccine.
Efforts to talk up the jab’s effectiveness among elderly people were undermined by 71-year-old Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who told the top-selling Bild daily he had no plans to take AstraZeneca.
“The answer to Jens Spahn’s appeal (to the elderly) is no,” Seehofer said, adding that he had nothing against AstraZeneca but didn’t want to be “patronised”.
Several other countries, including France, Spain and Canada, have also imposed age limits on the AstraZeneca shot over the occurrence of rare but very severe blood clots.
The Federal Government is proposing to spend the sum of N396 billion for the COVID-19 vaccination in 2021 and 2022.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed disclosed this on Wednesday after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting, which was presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Ahmed explained that the figure may significantly reduce as the Federal Government receives more donations of the vaccines from the private sector.
She adds that the Ministry of Health is working on details of the gap that the Federal Government will be required to fill in the vaccination exercise.
She also explains that the size of the proposed supplementary budget agreed by the executive and legislative arm is yet to be resolved, because the Ministry of Defence and Health, are yet to provide details of the military hardware requirement.
Ahmed had earlier in February said a supplementary budget will be needed to cover the cost of COVID-19 vaccinations, for which no provision was made in the 2021 finance bill adopted in December.
The Federal Government has said it plans to inoculate 40% of Nigeria’s population this year and another 30% in 2022.
“There will be a supplementary budget, the first one will be in March relating to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Ahmed told reporters.
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) says it is working to ensure that all patients of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) are given a priority in the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination in the country.
The Director-General of the NACA, Dr Gambo Aliyu, stated this on Sunday while briefing reporters at an empowerment programme organised by the agency in Gumel Local Government Area of Jigawa State.
He noted that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines were safe and would go a long way in boosting the immune system of HIV patients.
“The Astra-Zeneca vaccine is safe for everyone, including those with HIV-AIDs, and we are collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, to ensure that victims of HIV are prioritised in the vaccination across the country,” Aliyu said.
On Friday, the NACA boss presented starter kits to 180 young people in Gumel.
He explained that the beneficiaries are trained youths in Jigawa State that were grilled on six income-generating trades to become self-reliant.
According to Aliyu, the beneficiaries who are drawn from the 27 Local Government Areas of the state, and have received intensive training in Plaster of Paris (POP), painting, interlock, barbing, confectionery, and hairdressing, comprise men and women.
He also noted that the agency had provided drugs and other medical supports to people living with HIV in the state.
The NACA boss, however, urged the beneficiaries to use the starter kits judiciously and contribute meaningfully to the economic growth of their communities, the state, and the nation at large.
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by HIV which damages a patient’s immune system and interferes with the ability of the body to fight infections and diseases.
The Lagos State government has identified 88 healthcare facilities across the state where residents can go to take the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.
These centres, which include military and police hospitals, have been selected to provide vaccination across the 20 Local Government Areas, the Commissioner for Health in Lagos, Professor Akin Abayomi, said in a statement on Tuesday.
He stated that vaccination can only be obtained at any of the accredited facilities listed and warned that vaccination outside of the centres was highly prohibited.
Abayomi advised residents to stay away from unaccredited centres, stressing that failure to do so would attract heavy sanctions through the relevant government agencies.
On the rollout and administration procedure, he noted that the vaccine would be administered in two doses, with 12 weeks apart to increase efficacy.
“Results show a vaccine efficacy of over 70 per cent after the first dose and an average of 82 per cent after the second dose.
“Lagos State Technical Working Committee nominated by Mr Governor to manage the Vaccine Access and Distribution Strategy has aligned itself with the Federal vaccination plan, which will be conducted in four phases,” the commissioner said.
He said the vaccine would be conducted in four phases and the first would capture healthcare workers, COVID-19 response team, ports of entry staff – air, land, and seaports, – laboratory network, judiciary, military, police, other security agencies, petrol station workers, teachers, press, and other frontline workers.
Phase two, according to Abayomi, is for people aged 50 years and above, as well as those living with co-morbidities who are between 18-49 years of age.
He added that the third phase would capture people in the LGAs with the highest burden of disease and those who missed the first two phases, and phase four would capture other eligible populations.
The commissioner revealed that of the first tranche of 3.92 million doses received by the Nigerian government, Lagos State got 507,742 doses of the vaccine in the early hours of March 9 and had commenced its first phase of distribution.
Read the full statement below on the registration procedure and other important information below:
According to residents of Kutunku community in Wushishi Local Government Area, the armed men began shooting sporadically around 10 am as they carted away about 20 persons.
Meanwhile, five persons were also abducted in Rafi Local Government Area and several other persons were injured at Panku Gari Council Area.
An eye-witness said the bandits, who were well-armed with dangerous weapons, carried out their operation brazenly in broad daylight.
State authorities, including the police, were yet to comment on the attack as of Monday evening
Context: Niger, the largest state in the country which shares a long border with the Federal Capital Territory, has experienced similar attacks in recent times. In February, tens of schoolboys were kidnapped in Kagara, a community in the state. Some 53 travellers, including 20 women and nine children, were also abducted while transiting on a state-owned bus earlier that month, although they have now been released.
The insecurity in Niger shadows the general situation across the country, although the Federal Government has repeatedly reiterated its commitment to restoring peace.
States begin to receive Covid Vaccine
Ogun State became the first regional government to receive the Covid vaccine after taking delivery of 50,000 doses of the Astrazeneca-Oxford jab.
The State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, promised that the doses will be immediately deployed to all the Local Government Areas in the state and across its 236 wards.
He added that the state is still awaiting the second batch of another 50,000 doses.
Strategic Leaders: Members of the Presidential Task Force on Covid, including Chairman Boss Mustapha, publicly received their first jabs of the Astrazeneca vaccine in Abuja on Monday.
According to Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the decision to administer the vaccine on members publicly was to help the government combat vaccine hesitancy, which the task force identifies as a potential challenge that needs to be addressed urgently as the roll-out to states commences.
NCDC: The country recorded 371 new cases of the virus and 13 deaths on Monday, the disease control agency said.
Stream of Messages on Women’s Day
Monday was International Women’s Day and, expectedly, individuals, organisations, governments published messages in support of, and in admiration of women.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement, said women can perform creditably well if given the opportunity, although women make up less than 20 percent of his cabinet.
After a long silence, first lady Aisha Buhari signed a statement urging Nigerian leaders to bring an immediate end to the incessant spate of abductions of women and girls in the country.
Superwoman: Saadat Aliyu from Kano State has developed an android application ‘Helpio App’ for reporting cases of sexual abuse.
What else is happening?
Sheikh Gumi: The Nigerian Army has refuted claims made by the Islamic cleric that some of its troops are deliberately deployed to kill worshipers of a certain religion.
Namadi Sambo: The former Vice President met with President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday and gave an update on his assignment as the ECOWAS Head of Mission on the election in the Republic of Niger.
INEC: The electoral commission has commenced preparations for 2023 as it directs resident electoral commissioners to take inventories of election materials under their care and make a report to headquarters.
NDLEA: The drug-focused law enforcement agency has arrested a ‘notorious drug trafficker’ and also recovered cocaine hidden in a Monarch’s palace in Anambra State.
Edo State: The Court of Appeal sitting in Benin-City has set aside the judgement of the High Court which nullified the candidacy of APC’s Deputy Governorship candidate, Audu Ganiyu, in the 2020 Edo Governorship Elections. Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has reserved judgment in an appeal filed by the APC and its chieftain, Williams Edobor, challenging the certificate presented by Governor Godwin Obaseki in the 2020 election.
Senegal: A judge charged opposition leader Ousmane Sonko with rape and freed him from detention pending an investigation on Monday, after his arrest last week sparked the West African state’s worst unrest in years. Novak Djokovic: The Tennis superstar set a new landmark of 311 weeks as world number one on Monday, one week longer than Roger Federer whose tally of a record 20 Grand Slam titles is now firmly in the Serb’s sights.
Video of the day
A chieftain of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Abdullah Shinkafi says (video above) some politicians in Zamfara State offered about 57 million naira to bandits, asking them not to release the Jangebe abducted girls.
The Kano State government has rolled out its COVID-19 Vaccination Plan and identified 509 health facilities that will be used as vaccination centres.
Some of the centres proposed for the exercise include the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Muhammadu Abdullahi Wase Teaching Hospital, and Dala Orthopaedic Hospital, among others.
Speaking at a stakeholder sensitisation meeting on Monday, the state governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, explained that the exercise would follow the same pattern used during the polio vaccination in order to reach the entire people of the state.
“We also need to follow the same pattern with that of our effort during the first wave of the COVID-19 and to achieve this, our health workers are well trained for that and they are recognised to be one of the best in the country.
“They performed wonderfully well before and during the first wave of the pandemic; they are still sustaining the tempo,” the governor said.
He noted that for effective administration, all categories of people would be involved in the sensitisation programmes, especially the health-related professional associations.
Governor Ganduje also gave an assurance that the state government, along with all the stakeholders, would ensure they win the fight against the pandemic.
On his part, the Technical Coordinator of the Kano State COVID-19 Response Team, Dr Tijjani Hussaini, noted that there would be four phases for the proposed vaccination exercise in the state.
“The first phase will focus on frontline health workers, the second phase focuses on the remaining health workers and people above 50 years, the third phase will focus on people with underlying health issues, and the fourth phase will focus on other target population,” he outlined.
Dr Hussaini, however, stressed the need for people to come forth and register online, using the link – http://t.co/85Rj6MbZYU.
He explained that this was important for the Federal Government to make the vaccines available as much as possible for the state.
A Professor of Public Health at the Bayero University in Kano, Mukhtar Gandanya, made a presentation titled ‘COVID-19 Vaccine: Facts, Misconception and Myths’.
He insisted that the vaccine was safe and condemned the insinuations that it was not safe for use.
Others at the meeting included heads of security agencies in the state, such as police, army, air force, civil defence, and immigration service.
In continuation of the national vaccination exercise, the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu have taken their first dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
Also Permanent Secretary State House, Tijjani Umar and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), General Mohammed Buba Marwa (rtd).
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged all state governments, as well as traditional and religious leaders to take the lead in the mobilisation effort within their environment and spheres of influence, as Nigeria launches the COVID-19 vaccination exercise.
He made the plea on Saturday shortly after he took the first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine jab along with the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The President described his decision to take the vaccine in public as a demonstration of leadership and faith in the safety and efficacy of the vaccines.
“I have received my first jab and I wish to recommend it to all eligible Nigerians, to do the same so that we can be protected from the virus,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
He added, “The vaccine offers hope for a safe country, free of coronavirus.
“I similarly urge all eligible Nigerians to present themselves and be vaccinated in accordance with the order of priority already mapped out, at the various authorised designated centres only.”
President Buhari and his vice received the first shots of the vaccine in the presence of members of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, and senior government officials, among others.
The personal physician to the President, Dr Sanusi Raafindadi, administered the vaccine to him while that of the Vice President was done by his personal physician, Dr Nicholas Audifferen.
– Unseen, But Potent Enemy –
President Buhari congratulated the PTF on the successful multi-sectoral approach to the management of the pandemic.
He also acknowledged and commended the support of governments, donors, development partners, the private sector, traditional and religious leaders, as well as critical stakeholders who have supported Nigeria’s response to the pandemic.
The President who assured them that all the resources would be equitably administered noted that since the beginning of the year 2020, humanity had remained under the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic – an unseen but very potent enemy around the world.
He said, “Infection from the virus has resulted in over two million and five hundred thousand fatalities and destroyed several global and national systems.
“The response in Nigeria and the ECOWAS sub-region has been robust, collaborative, and united. It was driven by a collective knowledge of the fact that no country is safe until every country is safe.”
“The speedy development of the COVID-19 vaccines is quite significant and underscores the collective resolve of humanity to overcome the pandemic.
“Similarly, the collaborative effort to ensure equal access has brought relief to poor and developing countries,” President Buhari added.
He echoed the assurance by the PTF that the AstraZeneca vaccine which Nigeria has accessed would arrive in batches, beginning with the almost four million doses already received.
The President was hopeful that the rollout and administration plan of the government would cater to over 70 per cent of Nigeria’s population in 2021 and 2022.