Thursday Update: Matawalle’s Quest, Sadiq Daba & Nigerians’ Appetite For Covid Vaccine

Good morning,

We are leading with Governor Bello Matawalle’s quest for peace in Zamfara, the death of a beloved actor, and Nigeria’s burgeoning COVID-19 vaccination program.


Matawalle’s Thirst For Peace In Zamfara

Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle has said he is ready to resign if it will lead to peace in Zamfara. Nigerian politicians rarely leave public office voluntarily, so while his resignation is not expected, the comment is a metaphor for how seriously he wants to be taken on his desire to secure Zamfara.

The Governor, who appeared on Wednesday as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today, also approved of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ‘no-fly-zone’ if it will end insecurity in the region, although he was displeased that he had not been consulted before the directive was issued.

Also, the Governor has been at the forefront of negotiating with bandits, an approach that the Federal Government has frowned on for its tendency to burnish the ragged reputation of criminals. But his approach, which Matawalle has described as both ‘kinetic and non-kinetic’ helped to free hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapped in Jangebe on Friday.

Jangebe Reunion: Security officials shot at an angry crowd as the recently released 279 schoolgirls were being reunited with their families in a remote part of Zamfara.

Babagana Zulum: To end insecurity in the North-East, the Borno State Governor has urged the Federal Government to seek support from neigbouring countries.


Sadiq Daba Goes Home

Veteran Nigerian broacaster and actor Sadiq Daba has died.

His death was confirmed by filmmaker Kunle Afolayan to Channels Television. Mr. Daba had worked with Afolayan on his 2020 movie, Citation.

According to Mr. Afolayan, the ace broadcaster died on Wednesday from his protracted battle with leukaemia and prostate cancer.

Afolayan said the news was confirmed to him by Mr. Daba’s wife and son.

He further shared that at the time he worked with Mr. Daba on Citation in 2020, he was hale and hearty, although he always had his oxygen supply around him.

Apart from being an ace broadcaster, Sadiq Daba was renowned for acting in the classic ‘Cock Crow at Dawn’ and ‘October 1st’.


Johnson & Johnson vaccine vials against the COVID-19 coronavirus are seen at the Klerksdorp Hospital as South Africa proceeds with its inoculation campaign on February 18, 2021. Phill Magakoe / AFP
Johnson & Johnson vaccine vials against the COVID-19 coronavirus are seen at the Klerksdorp Hospital as South Africa proceeds with its inoculation campaign on February 18, 2021.
Phill Magakoe / AFP

Nigerians Show Appetite For COVID-19 Vaccine

Almost four million doses of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Nigeria on Tuesday and Nigerians are showing massive interest in the remedy.

In less than 24 hours of a government registration portal going live, more than two million Nigerians signed up to receive the vaccine, according to the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).

It had been feared that many Nigerians would reject the vaccine. While such fears remain a major concern for public health officials and policymakers, the ‘early rush’ is an encouraging sign.

The first batch of vaccines is expected to be administered to frontline workers and strategic leaders, but Nigeria is also expecting an additional 41 million doses of vaccine from the African Union.

Although health experts have warned that relying solely on vaccines will not solve the pandemic crisis, it can be a very potent weapon.


What else is happening?

Food Blockage: The Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria said it has lifted its ban on the transportation of food items to the southern part of the country.

NIN: The Federal Government has approved the establishment of dedicated Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) swap centres in each of the 774 local government areas in the country.

Niger State: Less than three weeks after 40 passengers were kidnapped, gunmen have again abducted over 50 passengers along the Tegina-Minna road in Rafi Local Government Area.

Apapa Cleanup: Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanow-Olu, has warned that the state will not spare anyone who flouts the electronic call-up system introduced in Apapa to ease gridlock in the area.

Winifred Oyo-Ita: A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered a stay of proceedings in the ongoing trial of the former Head of Service of the Federation and others.

ICPC: The anti-corruption agency said Nigeria is losing about $10 billion from multinationals who evade taxes.

United States: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would not quit over sexual harassment allegations made against him by three women.


And that’s it for today. See you tomorrow.

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Wednesday Update: Zamfara Schoolgirls, COVID-19 Vaccines & Service Chiefs

Good morning.

We are leading with the return of schoolgirls in Zamfara, the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines, and the confirmation of security chiefs.


Some of the abducted girls after regaining their freedom. (Photo by Aminu ABUBAKAR / AFP)

Jangebe Schoolgirls Regain Freedom

Tuesday morning started on a bright note as schoolgirls kidnapped from Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, in Talata Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State last Friday were released.

Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle said the girls were released with the help of repentant bandits without any ransom paid.

The Governor put the number of girls recovered at 279, although the police had earlier said 317 girls were taken.

President Muhammadu Buhari celebrated the release but called for greater vigilance. Later on Tuesday, the President declared a no-fly-zone across Zamfara State and banned all mining activities as part of measures to tackle the North-Western state’s security challenges.


Nigeria Receives First Batch of Vaccines

Nigeria finally took delivery of almost four million doses of COVID-19 vaccines on Tuesday.

The vaccines, donated by the WHO-backed COVAX, arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, around noon via an Emirates airline (above) and were received by top government officials led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha.

Another 41 million vaccines are expected to arrive from the African Union.

Reaction: The President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Prof. Innocent Ujah, and the National Incident Manager of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. Mukhtar Muhammed said the arrival of the vaccine does not mean the pandemic has ended.


Newly appointed service chiefs

Senate Confirms Service Chiefs

The Senate has confirmed the appointment of the newly appointed Service Chiefs.

After the confirmation on Tuesday, Senate President Ahmad Lawan advised the new service chiefs to take the insurgency war to the terrorists and bandits and dislodge them from their enclaves.

Meanwhile, Boko Haram insurgents have attacked Dikwa local government area in Borno State and abducted at least seven aid workers. The United Nations said the insurgents had “directly targeted” aid facilities.

In its account of the attack, the army said it was able to repel the terrorists and denied that they were able to attack a United Nations base.

Mass Resignation: The House of Representatives has called for improved welfare for troops and effective delivery of welfare packages across the ranks after a total of 356 soldiers resigned in July 2020.


What else is happening?

Omoyele Sowore: The #RevolutionNow convener appeared in court with a ‘spiritual adviser’.

PDP: Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki on Tuesday led a group of party chieftains to a closed-door meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom embraces his Bauchi counterpart, Bala Mohammed following their reconciliation on March 2, 2021 in Rivers State.

 

Herdsmen Crisis: Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed and his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom have settled their differences over comments made on AK-47 amid the security situation in the country.

Abdulrasheed Maina: Money recovered by the ex-Pension boss was used to fund the 2012 budget, a witness told the Federal High Court on Tuesday.

Ekiti State: Gunmen have kidnapped another foreigner along Igbemo Ekiti in Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government Area.

Ebola: Guinea has launched a vaccination campaign after a fresh outbreak of the deadly disease struck the country this month, with officials hoping to eradicate the virus in six weeks.

Alexei Navalny: The United States has imposed sanctions on the director of Russia’s FSB security agency after finding it carried out the near-fatal poisoning of President Vladimir Putin’s leading critic.


And that’s it for today.

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Tuesday Update: Vaccine Arrival & Fuel Queues In Abuja

Good morning,

We are leading with the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria, the emergence of fuel queues in the nation’s capital, and how the Benue State government is managing herdsmen’s activities.


Airport workers transport on dollies a shipment of Covid-19 vaccines from the Covax global Covid-19 vaccination programme, at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra on February 24, 2021. (Photo by Nipah Dennis / AFP)

The Vaccines are here

All things being equal, almost four million doses of COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in Nigeria today. The vaccines, supplied by the WHO-backed COVAX, will include the AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson types, according to the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora.

But how will the vaccines be administered? The federal government, which launched a strategy (code-named ‘TEACH’) and an online registration portal on Monday, is planning to first inoculate frontline health workers and strategic leaders. Persons above the age of 50, especially those with pre-existing health conditions, will also be given priority.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari and other key leaders are expected to receive the vaccine jab in public.

NCDC: Nigeria on Monday recorded 360 new cases and eight deaths as a result of the virus, according to the disease control agency.

Oyewale Tomori: The virology professor has warned that Nigerians must be cautious of their attitude towards the pandemic or risk a third wave, which could be deadlier.


Vehicles queue for fuel in Abuja on March 1, 2021. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

A Looming Fuel Scarcity?

Long queues of vehicles at petrol stations emerged in Abuja on Monday as fears grew over a rise in petrol prices.

On Sunday, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had denied reports of any increment in the price of petrol in March.

But some of the Abuja motorists who spoke to Channels Television on Monday said they spent as much as five hours to access the product.

Context: As the global prices of oil increase, marketers believe the landing cost of fuel will also increase. But the NNPC, a government agency, is the only exporter of petrol into the country, due to foreign exchange scarcity, and can still determine, through its subsidiary, the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company, how much the product should cost. Perhaps once the messaging from the NNPC that it doesn’t plan to increase the price of the product in March gets through to marketers, the queues will disappear. Still, if global crude prices continue to rise, Nigerians will eventually have to pay more for petrol.


A picture showing the released cows and officials at the formal handover of the 210 cows.

Benue Goes Tough On Herdsmen

Amid reports of food blockages from the North to the South, the Benue government has continued to implement its anti-grazing policy.

The government recently released 210 cows confiscated by the state livestock guards at Mbala, Makurdi, and Gbajimba in Guma Local Government Area of the state.

The cows were returned to the owners after various fines worth N5 million, in total, were paid.

Significance: Hostilities against herdsmen have grown in recent years, especially among farmers who say farmlands are being destroyed by cattle grazing without restrictions. Although the Benue law has been in existence since 2017, its application could encourage the growth of ranches, an idea supported by most State Governors.


What else is happening?

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: The ex-World Bank chief officially assumed control of the World Trade Organisation on Monday.

Kaduna State: Bandits struck again for the umpteenth time in an attack on three villages which killed no fewer than ten people.

Femi Adesina: The Presidential spokesman said security will get better in Nigeria, but all citizens must take responsibility.

Hadi Sirika: The Minister of Aviation said the abduction of schoolgirls in Zamfara State will be the last of its kind under the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Peter Obi: The former Anambra State Governor has called for the Federal Government to allow states to operate their regional security system.

Ondo State: The government has suspended the operations of the National Union of Road transport workers (NURTW) and the Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) in all the 18 local government areas of the state, with immediate effect.

Nicolas Sarkozy: The former French president was found guilty of corruption and handed a three-year prison sentence, in a ruling that deals a major blow to any lingering political ambitions.


And that’s it for today.

For more updates, don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel: bit.ly/2Hb8hjx

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Nigerian Govt Launches Strategy For Effective COVID-19 Vaccination

 

 

Ahead of the receipt of the first batch of the COVAX vaccines, the Federal Government is rolling out a special COVID-19 vaccination strategy.

Launching the strategy codenamed ‘T.E.A.C.H’ at an event in Abuja on Monday, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, explained that it would help the government to track the vaccination process across the country.

According to him, the strategy also hopes to enable the government to have a rich electronic database of all eligible citizens for vaccination.

The minister explained that vaccination with the safe and effective vaccine was a critical part of Nigeria’s strategy to counter the COVID-19 pandemic and stop transmission of the virus.

READ ALSOCOVID-19: Tomori Warns Against A Third Wave, Urges Nigerians To Take Responsibility

Workers unload a shipment of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine bearing Covax stickers from a plane at Felix Houphouet Boigny airport of Abidjan on February 26, 2021. SIA KAMBOU / AFP
Workers unload a shipment of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine bearing Covax stickers from a plane at Felix Houphouet Boigny airport of Abidjan on February 26, 2021. SIA KAMBOU / AFP

 

“We in Nigeria finally have the privilege to join other countries in kick-starting the immunisation programme which will prioritise first those people most at risk of infection due to their exposure in the line of duty, as determined by available epidemiology data,” he was quoted as saying in a tweet by the Federal Ministry of Health.

 

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, and others at the launch of the COVID-19 vaccination strategy in Abuja on March 1, 2021. Photo: [email protected]

 

Ehanire added, “In less than 24 hours, the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines will arrive in the COVAX facility and will be deployed to vaccinate first our critical frontline healthcare workers who are providing essential care, especially for severe COVID-19 patients.”

“I urge all eligible Nigerians to take the COVID-19 vaccination when it is their turn. This is the only way we can achieve herd immunity to stop the community transmission of this deadly virus.”

He described T.E.A.C.H as an acronym for a five-point strategy developed by the vaccination implementation arm of the Ministry of Health and National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) out of the many years of vaccination implementation experience in Nigeria.

The minister commended the NPHCDA under the leadership of Dr Faisal Shuaib and his hardworking team whom he said developed a home-grown strategy to deliver the vaccine.

“I thank all partners who have been working hard with NPHCDA under the auspices of NPHCDA COVID-19 Technical Working Group and also the COVID-19 vaccines coordinating committee,” he said.

In his remark, Dr Shuaib explained that the strategy was guided by an in-house vaccination experience, as well as those of other countries that have already rolled out COVID-19 vaccines.

The Country Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Walter Mulombo, was also at the event.

He warned against any form of complacency regarding other interventions, saying Nigeria needed a combination of vaccines and such strategies to attain the needed immunity.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, had announced that Nigeria would soon receive the first tranche of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), said last Saturday that the first shipment of 3,924,000 million doses of vaccines would be coming from COVAX, a World Health Organisation (WHO)-backed initiative set up to procure and ensure equitable distribution of vaccines for free among countries across the world.

He had hinted that the vaccines would depart India on Monday and arrive in Abuja on March 2, 2021.

Why Buhari, Others Will Receive COVID-19 Vaccine ‘In The Open’ – Minister

 

President Muhammadu Buhari and others are to receive the COVID-19 vaccine dose “in the open”.

This is according to the Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, who explained the rationale behind the decision.

Although he did not give a specific time as to when President Buhari would be vaccinated, he answered affirmatively when specifically asked if the vaccine would be administered to the President and others publicly.

“Why not? Because we want to let the people know that this vaccine is safe, that is why we will do it in the open because we need to generate that confidence and build trust in the people,” Mamora said on Monday while featuring as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

He explained, “Even in a war situation, you will want to protect as much as possible the strategic leaders of the country. Of course, Mr President, the governors…  that’s what we refer to as strategic leadership.”

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Tomori Warns Against A Third Wave, Urges Nigerians To Take Responsibility

(FILE) President Muhammadu Buhari at a meeting with members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and others in Abuja on December 22, 2020.

 

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, had hinted on Saturday that Nigeria would soon receive the first tranche of the COVID-19 vaccine on March 2, 2021.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), disclosed that the first shipment of 3,924,000 million doses of vaccines would be coming from COVAX, a World Health Organisation (WHO)-backed initiative set up to procure and ensure equitable distribution of vaccines for free among countries across the world.

Less than 24 hours to the delivery of the vaccines, Mamora explained that the vaccine would be administered in the order of priority.

The first set of people to be considered, according to him, include the frontline health workers, the elderly, and strategic leaders in the country.


VIDEO: Nigeria To Receive About Four Million Doses Of COVID-19 Vaccine


Despite receiving the vaccine elsewhere, he insisted that incoming travellers would be made to observe the existing protocols to curb the spread of the disease.

The minister said, “The protocol is there already which is the need to produce evidence of having taken the PCR test within the stipulated time limit which is about 72 hours before boarding, and then even when they come into the country, they will go into isolation and on the seventh day, they will still be required to do the PCR test.

“It doesn’t matter (if they have been vaccinated) because having been vaccinated does not absolutely say that you cannot get the infection, what the vaccine guarantees is that if you get the infection, you are not likely to succumb.”

FG Begins Online Registration Of Nigerians For COVID-19 Vaccination

Johnson & Johnson vaccine vials against the COVID-19 coronavirus are seen at the Klerksdorp Hospital as South Africa proceeds with its inoculation campaign on February 18, 2021. Phill Magakoe / AFP
Johnson & Johnson vaccine vials against the COVID-19 coronavirus are seen at the Klerksdorp Hospital as South Africa proceeds with its inoculation campaign on February 18, 2021. Phill Magakoe / AFP

 

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency on Monday announced that Nigerians can now register for the COVID-19 vaccination via its website.

“To register for #COVID19 Vaccination, visit our website http://nphcda.gov.ng and click on ‘COVID-19 Vaccination e-registration,” the agency said in a tweet.

Nigeria is expected to receive almost four million doses of the vaccine on Tuesday courtesy of COVAX, a global initiative backed by the World Health Organisation.

Earlier on Monday, the Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, noted that frontline health workers would be one of the first set of people to get the vaccine.

“The first will be the frontline health workers because they are facing the battle heavily,” he said. “They will come first then, secondly, we will look at the elderly – those above 60, 65 years and particularly with comorbidities (people who have existing health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease – they will also be in that group.

“We will also be looking and the strategic leadership of the country, and then we would be looking at some other people like those at the point of entry, border post managers, and things like that; This will be the order in terms of priority for now.”

COVID-19 Vaccine: FG To Prioritise Health Workers, Elderly, Strategic Leaders

 

Nigerian authorities say the expected COVID-19 vaccine would be administered in the order of priority, less than 24 hours to the arrival of the vaccine.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, disclosed this on Monday while highlighting the preparedness of the government to take delivery of the vaccines.

Speaking during his appearance on Channels Television’s breakfast programme – Sunrise Daily, he noted that the frontline health workers would be the first set of people to get the vaccine.

“The first will be the frontline health workers because they are facing the battle heavily. They will come first then, secondly, we will look at the elderly – those above 60, 65 years and particularly with comorbidities (people who have existing health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease – they will also be in that group.

“We will also be looking and the strategic leadership of the country, and then we would be looking at some other people like those at the point of entry, border post managers, and things like that; This will be the order in terms of priority for now,” the minister stated.

He explained that those referred to as strategic leaders comprise President Muhammadu Buhari, state governors, and other key public office holders in the country.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Tomori Warns Against A Third Wave, Urges Nigerians To Take Responsibility

A file photo of COVID-19 vaccine doses at a manufacturing plant.

 

Defending the decision to include the President and others among the first set of people to be vaccinated, Mamora said, “Even in a war situation, you will want to protect as much as possible the strategic leaders of the country. Of course, Mr President, the governors…  that’s what we refer to as strategic leadership.”

Asked if the vaccine would be administered to the President and others publicly, he answered affirmatively.

“Why not? Because we want to let the people know that this vaccine is safe, that is why we will do it in the open because we need to generate that confidence and build trust in the people.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, had announced that Nigeria would soon receive the first tranche of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), said last Saturday that the first shipment of 3,924,000 million doses of vaccines would be coming from COVAX, a World Health Organisation (WHO)-backed initiative set up to procure and ensure equitable distribution of vaccines for free among countries across the world.

He had hinted that the vaccines would depart India on Monday and arrive in Abuja on March 2, 2021.

COVID-19: Nigeria To Receive About 4m Doses Of Vaccine On Tuesday

 

The Federal Government has confirmed that Nigeria will receive the first tranche of the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021. 

This is according to the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha. He said this on Saturday in Abuja, the Nigerian capital. 

The PTF chairman who also doubles as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), explained that the first shipment of  3,924,000 million doses of covid-19 vaccines is coming from COVAX, a World Health Organization (WHO)backed initiative set up to procure and ensure equitable distribution of vaccines for free among countries across the globe.

“I can assure you that the vaccines are coming and they are coming very quickly barring any change in the delivery plan that has been released to us by UNICEF,” the SGF said, exactly one year after the virus was reported in the West African nation.

He added: “We believe that our vaccines should depart India on the 1st of March, 2021 at 10:30 pm and arrive in Abuja on the 2nd of March by 11:10 am.”

Read Also: Ghana Receives World’s First Doses Of Free Covax Vaccines

Earlier in the month, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire had confirmed that Nigeria will be getting the COVAX vaccine in March, and explained that the Federal Government is targeting to vaccinate 70 percent of the population. 

“We have been told to open an account with Afreximbank under the African Union; we have done that already successfully because we are going to pay for that part of the vaccine. The COVAX vaccine is free, at no cost to us, it is made from donations,” the minister had explained during a briefing with journalists

“We want to immunise about 60 to 70% of our population. If COVAX immunises 20, then we have about 40 to 50 to immunise within the next two years.”

A carton box of a Covishield vaccine developed by Pune based Serum Institute of India (SII) is unloaded at Mumbai airport on February 24, 2021, as part of the Covax scheme, which aims to procure and distribute inoculations fairly among all nations. INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / AFP

 

This expected arrival of the vaccine is coming just one year after Nigeria confirmed its first case of the virus and is exiting the second wave of the pandemic. Since the disease came into the country, 155,417 cases of the disease have been confirmed with 133,256 discharged and 1,905 deaths recorded.

Thursday Update: Bawa’s Confirmation, Bandits In Kaduna And Nigeria’s Vaccine Wait

Good morning,

We are leading with the Senate’s confirmation of Abdulrasheed Bawa, more bandit attacks in Kaduna, and Nigeria’s long wait for COVID-19 vaccines.


EFCC Boss, Abdulrasheed Bawa, was confirmed by the Senate on February 24, 2021.
EFCC Boss, Abdulrasheed Bawa, was confirmed by the Senate on February 24, 2021.

Senate Confirms Abdulrasheed Bawa

The Senate has confirmed Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa as the new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Mr. Bawa, during his screening by the lawmakers, defended his competence to lead the anti-graft agency’s task of ridding Nigeria of corruption.

After his confirmation, 40-year-old Bawa said he would represent young people with distinction. “I am going to give the young people a very good representation in the governance of this country so that more young people will be given more responsibility in this country,” he said.

He also denied selling off any assets seized by the commission in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Corruption Allegations: Chairman of the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Suleiman Kwari, defended the lawmakers’ decision to ratify Mr. Bawa’s appointment, despite allegations of corruption brought against him. He said they were “wild allegations that could not be proven.”

Related: Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, said the Senate disappointed Nigerians by confirming the immediate past service chiefs as the nation’s ambassadors.

Police Trust Fund: Meanwhile, the Senate has approved N11.3 billion for the fund’s 2020 budget. About N1.3 billion was allocated for the procurement of teargas, while about N1 billion was set aside for the procurement of arms and ammunition.


A map showing Kaduna, a state in Nigeria's North-Central region.
A map showing Kaduna, a state in Nigeria’s north-west region.

Bandits Kill 18 In Kaduna

Attacks by bandits across three Local Government Areas in Kaduna have left at least 18 persons dead, the state government said on Wednesday.

The bandits burnt houses, barns, storehouses, rustled cows, and abducted people.

The attacks are the latest in a string of violent crimes that have rocked the North-West state for years.

Bala Mohammed: The Bauchi State Governor said he has no apology for justifying why Fulani herdsmen wield AK-47 guns. But he also pleaded with the herdsmen not to carry weapons illegally and embrace peace instead.

Delta State: One policeman has been confirmed dead and three others injured after gunmen attacked a bullion van belonging to a new generation bank along the Ubulu-Okiti, Aniocha South Local Government Area.

Borno Attack: Governor Babagana Zulum visited victims of Tuesday’s attack on Maiduguri. The number of those injured from the attack has risen to 50, the Governor said.


Airport workers transport on dollies a shipment of Covid-19 vaccines from the Covax global Covid-19 vaccination programme, at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra on February 24, 2021. (Photo by Nipah Dennis / AFP)

Ghana Takes Delivery Of COVID-19 Vaccine

Ghana has received 600,000 doses of the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine from Covax, a global scheme to procure and distribute Covid inoculations for free to poorer countries.

The West African nation was the first to receive vaccines from the scheme, which plans to ship two billion doses by year’s end.

Nigeria is also part of the scheme and is expected to receive part of its share before mid-March, according to the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire.

But the precise date of delivery is unavailable as it is not in the hands of the government, Dr. Ehanire said.

Quote:  “So, COVAX begins to deliver before the end of February,” Dr. Ehanire said. “And we hope that before the end of this month, it would be our turn or latest by the beginning of next month.”

NCDC: Nigeria confirmed 655 new cases of the virus and 11 deaths on Wednesday, according to the disease control agency.


What else is happening?

Rotimi Akeredolu: The Ondo State Governor has been sworn-in for a second term in office. He won re-election in October.

Ifeoma Abugu: Although men of the defunct SARS said she died of a cocaine overdose, an autopsy of her remains has come out negative for the substance, a report submitted at an #EndSARS panel said. Abugu was taken away by SARS operatives from her home in Lokogoma, Abuja in September 2020, only to be reported dead at the Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital the next day.

The Nigeria Labour Congress picketed the headquarters of the Corporate Affairs Commission in Abuja on February 24, 2021. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV
The Nigeria Labour Congress picketed the headquarters of the Corporate Affairs Commission in Abuja on February 24, 2021. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

Organised Labour: Members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) clashed at the headquarters of the Corporate Affairs Commission in Abuja over alleged anti-labour activities. The TUC attempted to stop the NLC from picketing the commission.

Abdulrasheed Maina: A Federal High Court will hear the bail application of the former ex-Pension boss today. Mr. Maina, notorious for jumping bail, is being prosecuted by the EFCC for money laundering to the tune of N2 billion.

Facebook: The social media giant has pledged to invest at least $1 billion to support journalism over the next three years.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine vials against the COVID-19 coronavirus are seen at the Klerksdorp Hospital as South Africa proceeds with its inoculation campaign on February 18, 2021. Phill Magakoe / AFP
Johnson & Johnson vaccine vials against the COVID-19 coronavirus are seen at the Klerksdorp Hospital as South Africa proceeds with its inoculation campaign on February 18, 2021.
Phill Magakoe / AFP

 

Johnson & Johnson: The US Food and Drug Administration has found the drugmaker’s single-shot vaccine as highly effective in preventing severe COVID-19, including newer variants.

Champions League: Manchester City continued their blistering run by beating Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Champions League round of 16 first leg tie, but coach Pepe Guardiola wants more from his players.


And that’s it for today. See you tomorrow.

Johnson & Johnson’s Single Shot COVID-19 Vaccine Highly Effective, Says US Regulator

Johnson & Johnson vaccine vials against the COVID-19 coronavirus are seen at the Klerksdorp Hospital as South Africa proceeds with its inoculation campaign on February 18, 2021. Phill Magakoe / AFP
Johnson & Johnson vaccine vials against the COVID-19 coronavirus are seen at the Klerksdorp Hospital as South Africa proceeds with its inoculation campaign on February 18, 2021. Phill Magakoe / AFP

 

The single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine is highly effective in preventing severe Covid-19, including newer variants, according to documents released by the US Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday.

The news came as the regulator was set to convene an independent panel Friday that will likely vote to authorize the vaccine, making it the third available in the country hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.

In large clinical trials, the J&J vaccine’s efficacy against severe disease was 85.9 percent in the United States, 81.7 percent in South Africa, and 87.6 percent in Brazil.

Overall, among 39,321 participants across all regions, the efficacy against severe Covid-19 was 85.4 percent, but it fell to 66.1 percent when including moderate forms of the disease.

Crucially, analyses of different demographic groups revealed no marked differences across age, race, or people with underlying conditions.

The vaccine was generally well-tolerated, with no reports of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), which have been seen in rare cases for the Pfizer and Moderna shots.

Mild to moderate reactions, like injection-site pain, headache, fatigue and muscle pains were more likely to occur in younger participants than older.

There were no reported deaths in the vaccine group, but five in the placebo group.

“The analysis supported a favorable safety profile with no specific safety concerns identified that would preclude issuance of an EUA (emergency use authorization),” the FDA wrote.

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters that if authorized, the federal government would seek to distribute three to four million doses next week.

“Johnson and Johnson has announced it aims to deliver a total of 20 million doses by the end of March,” he continued, adding the government was trying to speed up the delivery of the contracted 100 million doses, which the company has promised by the end of June.

One dose, fridge storage

A third vaccine is seen as a vital means to ramp up the immunization rate in the United States, where more than 500,000 people have lost their lives to the coronavirus.

Some 65 million people in America have so far received at least one shot of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines — but unlike those, the J&J vaccine requires just one dose, and is stored at fridge temperatures.

The trade-off is slightly less protection against mild or moderate forms of Covid-19.

“The vaccine was effective in preventing COVID-19 using a less restrictive definition of the disease and for more severe disease, including COVID-19 requiring medical intervention, considering all cases starting 14 days after vaccination,” the FDA wrote in its briefing document.

“Although a lower efficacy overall was observed in South Africa, where there was a predominance of B.1.3.5 lineage during the time period of this study, vaccine efficacy against severe/critical COVID-19 was similarly high across the United States, South Africa, and Brazil,” it added.

There was a hint, based on preliminary data, that the vaccine might be effective against asymptomatic infection.

But “this finding needs to be further investigated with additional data,” wrote the company in a separate document made available by the FDA.

The J&J vaccine uses a common-cold causing adenovirus, which has been modified so that it can’t replicate, to carry the DNA for a key protein of the coronavirus into human cells.

This makes those cells produce that protein, which in turn trains the human immune system should it encounter the real virus.

Other adenovirus vector vaccines against Covid-19 include those made by AstraZeneca-Oxford and Russia’s Sputnik V.

 

AFP

COVID-19: Biden Pledges $4bn For Global Vaccination Program

File photo: U.S. President Joe Biden signs an executive order as Vice President Kamala Harris looks on during an event on economic crisis in the State Dining Room of the White House January 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

 

President Joe Biden will pledge $4 billion in US aid to the Covax global Covid-19 vaccination program during his virtual meeting with other G7 leaders on Friday, White House officials said.

An initial $2 billion will be released “by the end of this month,” with the rest coming over the next two years, said a senior White House official, who asked not to be identified, on Thursday.

Covax is a global project to procure and distribute coronavirus vaccines for at least the most vulnerable 20 percent in every country, allowing poorer nations to catch up with the rush by dozens of wealthy countries to vaccinate.

“The United States is really excited to be making our first contribution to Covax,” the White House official said. “We do think it is vital to take a role in beating the pandemic globally.”

File photo: US President Joe Biden sits in the Oval Office as he signs a series of orders at the White House in Washington, DC, after being sworn in at the US Capitol on January 20, 2021. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP)

 

Although the United States is “prioritizing” domestic needs, assistance to other countries “decreases the risk to everyone in the world, including Americans, and also decreases the risk of variants,” the official said.

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For now, the focus is on contributing funds for purchase of new vaccines but “when we have a sufficient supply it is our intention to consider donating surplus vaccines,” the official said.

Group of Seven leaders will be discussing international coordination on ending the deadly and disruptive pandemic when they meet virtually on Friday.

AFP

South Africa Launches Vaccine Drive, First To Administer J&J Shot

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) nurse Bhelekazi Mdlalose (L), 51, performs a swab test for COVID-19 coronavirus on a health worker at the Vlakfontein Clinic in Lenasia, Johannesburg, on May 13, 2020. Michele Spatari / AFP
File photo: Doctors Without Borders (MSF) nurse Bhelekazi Mdlalose (L), 51, performs a swab test for COVID-19 coronavirus on a health worker at the Vlakfontein Clinic in Lenasia, Johannesburg, on May 13, 2020. Michele Spatari / AFP

 

 

South Africa launched its long-awaited coronavirus vaccine campaign on Wednesday while also becoming the first country worldwide to administer inoculations by US pharma giant Johnson & Johnson.

President Cyril Ramaphosa was among the first to be inoculated after the rollout was delayed earlier this month.

South Africa on February 1 received a million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca formula but decided against administering it over concerns of whether it would protect against a widespread variant.

It instead went with the vaccine by Johnson & Johnson as it bids to begin taming the pandemic in Africa’s hardest-hit nation.

A maternity nurse at a hospital in Khayelitsha township in Cape Town was the first to be immunised, hours after the first batch of 80,000 doses landed in the country from Brussels late Tuesday.

She looked relaxed as she received the jab, which was broadcast on live television.

After five healthcare workers got their jabs, it was Ramaphosa’s turn.

Before taking off his jacket and rolling up a long white shirt sleeve, he asked the nurse administering the jab if there would be any side effects.

“This day represents a real milestone for us as South Africans that finally the vaccines are here and they are being administered,” he said as he left the hospital to go to parliament.

Upbeat, he predicted the rollout would be “flawless.”

“This is a new era for us,” he said.

– Pfizer on the way –
South Africa took delivery of the new vaccines late Tuesday at an event that was closed to the press, in contrast to the fanfare two weeks ago when it received the Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs.

The new vaccines, only recently approved by the national health authorities, were rushed to 32 countrywide vaccination centres overnight.

Immunisations rolled into gear at several other centres including at one of Africa’s largest hospitals, Chris Hani Baragwanath, in Soweto township.

The stock is part of a consignment of nine million doses that South Africa secured from the US pharmaceutical giant.

The first doses will target healthcare workers as part of a study by the country’s medical research authority.

The country suspended its vaccine rollout after a study found the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab failed to prevent mild and moderate illness caused by a variant found in South Africa.

The Johnson & Johnson single shot vaccine has been proven to be 57 effective against the variant, whose lab name is 501Y.V2.

It is however 66 percent effective against the original Covid-19 and up to 85 percent effective against serious forms of infection.

Those vaccines will be supplemented by 20 million doses of the Pfizer formula and more that will be secured through the World Health Organization-backed Covax facility and the African Union (AU).

– Healthcare ‘soldiers’ –
The government plans to immunise around 40 million people, or two-thirds of the population, by year’s end.

South Africa has recorded nearly 1.5 million coronavirus infections, including more than 48,000 deaths.

It is emerging from a second wave of infections — fuelled by the new strain of the virus — and has seen the number of daily new cases drop from highs of 20,000 in early January to slightly over 1,000 this week.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, who was also vaccinated shortly after Ramaphosa, commended health workers for confronting the pandemic “like soldiers in the war who will stand up and face the enemy even though they lose their comrades”.

Khayelitsha, a sprawling township and home to at least 400,000 people, became a hotspot during the first wave when it was identified as the worst hit in the country.

“This vaccine gives us hope,” said Sa’ad Lahri, an emergency doctor at Khayelitsha District Hospital.