U.S. Donates 2.5 Million Doses Of Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccines To Nigeria

FILE PHOTO: Nigeria got its first doses of the vaccines one year after COVID-19 was confirmed in the country. PHOTO: Channels TV/Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The United States has announced the donation of 2.5 million Pfizer vaccine doses to Nigeria.

This was disclosed in a statement by the U.S Embassy on Thursday.

According to the statement, the vaccine doses arrived in Abuja this week and were received by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and taken to cold storage in preparation for distribution.

The vaccines are planned to be distributed to over 3,000 health facilities across all 36 states and FCT-Abuja. The statement added that the vaccines in the next few weeks will be available across major locations for vaccination in the country.

“Over the next several weeks, the vaccines will be available at major markets, shopping malls, event centers, motor parks, airports, places of employment, and religious institutions as part of Nigeria’s mass vaccination campaign.”

The statement added that, “the United States has donated more than 13.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in partnership with COVAX, or bilaterally to Nigeria.

“Additionally, the United States has provided more than $119 million in COVID-19 related health assistance.”

The COVID-19 related health assistance according to the U.S Embassy includes a 40-bed mobile field hospital, ventilators, and related training for 88 hospitals, personal protective equipment, technical assistance for vaccine readiness, risk communication, and demand generation for vaccines.

Others include “conducting an epidemiological COVID-19 detection and vaccine hesitancy survey, setting up electronic record systems, rapid response teams, training for over 200,000 military and civilian personnel on COVID-19 control measures, and technology for virtual training.”

In addition, the United States leveraged the PEPFAR-supported National Integrated Specimen Referral Network (NiSRN) and laboratory investments to support the expansion of the NCDC (153) molecular laboratory network nationwide.

The statement explained that the United States is committed to helping end the pandemic in Nigeria and everywhere, also committed to donating more than one billion vaccine doses around the world, by early 2022.

This includes African countries primarily through the COVAX initiative.  Improving equitable distribution remains a priority for the United States to prevent the emergence of new variants that threaten populations everywhere.

Facebook Takes Down Anti-Vaccine Posts Harassing Doctors, Journalists

This illustration photo taken in Los Angeles on October 28, 2021, shows a person using Facebook on a smartphone in front of a computer screen showing the META logo. PHOTO: Chris DELMAS / AFP)

 

Facebook’s parent company Meta said Wednesday it had derailed an anti-vaccine campaign that harassed medical workers, journalists, and elected officials, in a signal of the ongoing pressure from coronavirus pandemic-tied misinformation. 

The social media giant took down accounts in France and Italy that were linked to a conspiracy movement called “V_V”, which inundated pro-vaccine posts with potentially tens of thousands of comments.

“V-V” supporters also “mass-harassed” people on YouTube, Twitter, VKontakte and other online platforms, using swastikas or other images as well as calling doctors and media workers “Nazi supporters” for backing vaccines, Meta said.

READ ALSO: Iranian Forces, Taliban Exchange Fire At Border

The company’s update regarding efforts to counter misinformation and harassment on its platform comes as the tech giant battles accusations that it puts profit over user safety.

The firm changed its parent company name to “Meta” in October as it tries to move past the reputation of Facebook as a scandal-plagued social network to the company’s virtual reality vision for the future.

A report by social network analysis firm Graphika offered additional information on “V_V,” which it says touts itself as engaged in guerilla “psychological warfare” that targets vaccine supporters.

Graphika estimates that “V_V” has about 20,000 followers and said the group has been linked to vandalism of hospitals and efforts to disrupt vaccination programs by repeatedly booking and canceling medical appointments.

The group’s campaign used messaging service Telegram to train recruits and spread word of who to target, according to Meta head of emerging harms investigations Mike Dvilyanski.

 

– Using media to spread misinformation –

“While we aren’t banning all V_V content, we’re continuing to monitor the situation and will take action if we find additional violations,” Meta said.

Since the start of the pandemic, misinformation has taken many forms, from false and dangerous health advice to so-called miracle cures, conspiracy theories, racist rhetoric and online scams.

The United States in March denounced what it called a Russian disinformation campaign against US-made Covid-19 vaccines, saying Moscow was putting lives at risk.

Meta also reported taking down a “sprawling and unsuccessful” network out of China that used fake accounts to promote a bogus claim that a Swiss biologist contended the United States was putting pressure on World Health Organization scientists to blame China for the pandemic.

Investigators on the Meta security team equated the campaign to a “hall of mirrors, endlessly reflecting a single fake persona” with even Chinese state media citing the fabricated claim.

“Clusters of fake accounts attempted post-amplification, which only took root when media picked up the stories,” Meta head of security policy Nathaniel Gleicher said in the briefing.

“But, that was quickly debunked and fizzled out quickly,” he added.

The tactic reflected a trend of trying to get legitimate news outlets to spread misinformation promoted by networks of fake accounts, Gleicher noted.

“Operations like these will also target media, marketers and influencers, who need defenses against these kinds of campaigns,” he said.

Meta found links to employees of people associated with Chinese state infrastructure companies based around the world.

“This is the first time we have observed an operation that included a coordinated cluster of state employees to amplify itself in this way,” Meta said.

“Our investigation also found that a number of Chinese government officials began interacting with the operation’s content less than an hour after it first posted.”

AFP

Israel Vaccinates Children As Young As Five To Combat ‘Children’s Wave’

Israeli boy Yoav, 9, smiles after receiving a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Meuhedet Healthcare Services Organisation in Tel Aviv on November 22, 2021, as Israel begins coronavirus vaccination campaign for 5 to 11-year-olds. PHOTO: JACK GUEZ / AFP

 

Israel began rolling out COVID-19 vaccines for children aged five to 11 on Monday, becoming one of a handful of countries to inoculate children so young as it seeks to ward off another pandemic wave.

Over the summer, the Jewish state experienced an upsurge in coronavirus infections, fuelled by the Delta variant, and launched one of the earliest campaigns for booster shots.

As infections start to creep up again, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said the country is experiencing a “children’s wave” with about half of the recently confirmed cases among children below the age of 11, he wrote on Facebook.

Authorities had already begun immunising those aged 12 to 17 but decided to lower the age threshold in the wake of trials by Pfizer and recommendations from a panel of Israeli scientists.

READ ALSO: Taliban Tells Afghan TV Stations To Stop Airing Shows With Women Actors

While the campaign for younger minors was set to officially start Tuesday, doses were already being administered by Monday night, an AFP team in Tel Aviv found.

“Right now during the epidemic, the best tool to protect our children is vaccination,” said Heli Nave from outside a clinic giving the Pfizer-BioNTech jabs to children.

She said “it is not an easy decision at all” but the availability of data from the United States — which started immunising five-to-11-year-olds earlier this month — had convinced her.

The prime minister is scheduled to have his own youngest son vaccinated on Tuesday morning, his office announced.

Israel was one of the first countries to launch vaccines against the coronavirus last year thanks to a deal with Pfizer that gave it access to millions of doses in exchange for data on the vaccine’s efficacy.

More than 5.7 million of the country’s nine million people are now fully vaccinated.

AFP

Amnesty International Demands Two Billion COVID-19 Jabs For ‘Poorer World’

A file photo showing a Nigerian taking the COVID-19 jab.

 

 

COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers are putting profit before lives, Amnesty International said on Wednesday, as it demanded two billion doses for poorer nations by the end of the year.

The human rights group said in a new report that US President Joe Biden was expected to outline a pledge at the UN General Assembly to fully vaccinate 70 percent of the world’s population by next September.

“We need leaders like President Biden to put billions of doses on the table and deliver the goods, otherwise this is just another empty gesture and lives will continue to be lost,” Amnesty chief Agnes Callamard said.

The group said AstraZeneca, BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer had all refused to share doses or technology to enable more of the world to get Covid jabs.

Most people in the rich world have been inoculated, but parts of Latin America, Africa and Asia have plunged into renewed crises with “tens of thousands of preventable deaths every week”, Amnesty said.

Out of 5.76 billion doses administered worldwide, only 0.3 percent have gone to low-income countries with over 79 percent heading to upper-middle and high-income countries, it said.

In letters sent to Amnesty, all the companies pledged their support for human rights, but the report said their actions violated that commitment.

AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson were selling their doses at cost price, it noted.

But all of the six companies had fought a bid by India and South Africa to waive vaccine-related intellectual property rights at the World Trade Organization, despite receiving hefty government support themselves.

Amnesty launched a new campaign which it said was backed by the World Health Organization and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights “to hold states and big pharma to account”.

With 100 days to go till the end of the year, it said the WHO’s target of vaccinating 40 percent of the population of low and lower-middle income countries was at risk.

It demanded richer countries redistribute “the hundreds of millions of excess doses currently sitting idle” and for vaccine developers to ensure that at least half of doses produced go to poorer countries.

“We’re calling on states and pharmaceutical companies to drastically change course and to do everything needed to deliver two billion vaccines to low and lower-middle income countries starting now,” Callamard said.

“Profits should never come before lives,” she said. “No one should spend another year suffering and living in fear.”

Israel Approves COVID-19 Jabs For At Risk Children Aged 5-11

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)

 

 

Children in Israel aged five to 11 at risk of serious health complications can be vaccinated against Covid-19 as of August 1, Israeli health officials said Wednesday.

The Israeli health ministry gave the green light for the vaccinations to children who are “at significant risk of serious illness or death” from coronavirus.

“This is a special authorisation, and each vaccination will be studied on a case-by-case basis,” a ministry spokesperson told AFP on Wednesday.

The health ministry on Tuesday issued a list of medical problems where a vaccination was advised.

They include children with brain, heart or lung problems, severe immunosuppression, sickle cell anaemia, pulmonary hypertension and severe obesity.

They will be offered a Pfizer/BioNTech dose of 0.1 millilitre, three times less than the standard vaccine.

Last month, health officials extended vaccination to children aged 12 to 16.

About 55 percent of Israel’s population has been double vaccinated with Pfizer-BioNTech, thanks to a massive campaign launched in late December after an agreement with the pharmaceutical giant.

Israel’s digitised medical databases allowed for rapid large-scale studies.

Its initial vaccine rollout of the jab was among the world’s fastest, delivering two doses of the vaccine to more than 55 percent of the population.

Case numbers dropped dramatically, and in early June Israel eased many restrictions.

But soon after, as cases rose, the health ministry reimposed a requirement for masks to be worn in enclosed public places.

The authorities have also announced a partial return to the “health pass” programme, where all events with more than 100 participants entry will be restricted to people who have been vaccinated, recovered from the virus or have had a recent negative test.

Thousands March To Demand Covid Vaccines In South Africa

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members chant and hold placards as they march to the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) offices in Pretoria, on June 25, 2021. Phill Magakoe / AFP
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members chant and hold placards as they march to the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) offices in Pretoria, on June 25, 2021. Phill Magakoe / AFP

 

Thousands of South African opposition activists rallied in Pretoria to demand a faster coronavirus vaccination rollout in the continent’s worst-hit country.

With less than four percent of South Africa’s 59 million population inoculated, protesters are calling on regulators to approve more vaccines and speed up the pace of inoculations to get people back to work and kickstart the economy.

“Our agenda is simple, give our people vaccines, we want to open our economy,” Julius Malema, leader of the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters, told more than 2,500 supporters in Pretoria.

South Africa is the continent’s worst-hit country, with more than 1.8 million cases and over 59,000 deaths. Most of those who have so far received jabs have been the elderly and healthcare workers.

In a gathering criticised as a possible super-spreading event, EFF supporters clad in red party regalia marched to the offices of the health products regulator to demand the approval of more vaccines.

South Africa has so far administered only Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer shots to health workers, teachers and people aged over 60.

The EFF is also pushing for the use of Chinese and Russian vaccines, warning it would stage a sit-in at the home of the regulator’s chairwoman if it did not approve the emergency use of the jabs within seven days.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members chant as they march to the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) offices in Pretoria, on June 25, 2021. Phill Magakoe / AFP
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members chant as they march to the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) offices in Pretoria, on June 25, 2021. Phill Magakoe / AFP

 

The regulator has announced that it has received applications for the two vaccines and was assessing their efficacy.

Earlier Health ministry’s deputy director-general Nicholas Crisp said there were enough jabs in the country, after the destruction of two million J&J shots due to contamination fears.

“For now we are not in a vaccine constrained environment anymore,” Crisp told media briefing.

Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said Pfizer had so far delivered nearly 4.5 million doses and was due to ship in another 15.5 million in the third quarter.

“With this flow of vaccines, we will be able to press ahead with the vaccination of frontline workers sector by sector,” said the minister

With the country in the thick of a third wave of the pandemic, registering more than 18,700 new infections on Friday, government announced it was expanding the vaccine rollout programme.

Starting next month, immunisation will be open to people aged 50 years and cover other frontline workers such as in transport, police and prisons services.

 

AFP

Indian Police Probe Fake Vaccine Scams In Two Cities

Health workers inoculate meb with a dose of the Covishield vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus at the KC General Hospital, in Bangalore on June 9, 2021.
Manjunath Kiran / AFP

 

 

Indian police said Friday that around 2,000 people were injected with fake Covid-19 vaccines in Mumbai, and another 500 — some of them disabled — may have suffered the same fate in a second major city.

Vaccination rates rose sharply this week after the Indian government made shots free following a devastating pandemic surge in April and May.

Police in Mumbai said that around 2,000 people who thought they were being vaccinated were in fact injected with a saline solution.

Ten people have been arrested including two doctors at a private hospital in the financial hub, police told a news conference, with the scammers targeting residents of an upscale housing complex in one case.

“We (then) discovered that eight more camps were organised by this syndicate,” said Vishwas Patil, joint commissioner for the law and order division.

Police have recovered 1.24 million rupees ($16,700) in cash which was “fraudulently obtained” by the accused.

Police in Kolkata meanwhile have arrested a man posing as a civil servant with a master’s degree in genetics who reportedly ran as many as eight spurious vaccination camps.

Police said at least 250 disabled and transgender people were injected at one site, and that in total nearly 500 people may have been given counterfeit jabs across the city.

Kolkata official Atin Ghosh said that the seized vials were falsely labelled as containing the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, branded in India as Covishield.

“It was found that the Covishield label was stuck over another label, that of Amikacin Sulphate 500 mg, an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections of the urinary tract, bones, brain, lungs and blood among others,” Ghosh told AFP.

The scam came to light after an actress and politician, Mimi Chakraborty, who received a shot at one of the camps to raise awareness, became suspicious and alerted police.

Police seized fake ID cards from the suspect, one of an information ministry official and another as a municipal commissioner. His car sported Kolkata government stickers.

Debashis Barui, a Kolkata health official, said that many of those who had been injected were now “panicking” about the possible side effects.

“If any emergency arises, civic authorities will organise medical camps in the area to take care of those who have had fake shots,” Barui told AFP.

One of them, Ruma Sikdar, 35, said that she had been feeling drowsy and had discomfort in her arm.

“What I am worried about is how to get the real dose before the third wave hits,” the home-maker said.

“We didn’t think that this could happen when the world is battling the pandemic,” said student Debjit Majumdar, who also received the fake jab.

Over 150 Texas Hospital Staff Fired Or Quit Over Vaccine Ruling

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)

 

More than 150 employees at the Houston Methodist hospital in Texas were fired or resigned after failing to comply with orders to get a Covid-19 vaccination to continue working there, a hospital spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Officials Houston Methodist told its staff they needed to have received a Covid vaccination by June 7 or be suspended for two weeks.

Hospital spokeswoman Gale Smith told AFP that 153 employees “either resigned in the two-week suspension period or were terminated today.

“The employees who became compliant during the suspension period returned to work the day after they became compliant,” she said.

Nearly 200 staff had been suspended, the New York Times reported, and protests were staged against the mandatory vaccine rule.

Last month, 117 staff members filed a lawsuit against the hospital, accusing it of “forcing its employees to be human ‘guinea pigs’ as a condition for continued employment.”

The lawsuit was dismissed by a judge who said the vaccines’ safety was not at issue, and that Texas law only protects employees from refusing to commit a crime.

“Receiving a Covid-19 vaccination is not an illegal act, and it carries no criminal penalties,” Judge Lynn Hughes wrote.

The judge also reprimanded one of the main plaintiffs behind the lawsuit, nurse Jennifer Bridges, for the analogy that the threat of being fired for not getting vaccinated was like “forced medical experimentation during the Holocaust.”

“Equating the injection requirement to medical experimentation in concentration camps is reprehensible,” Hughes wrote.

But Bridges, who was one of the staff to have lost their job in the protest, told AFP Tuesday their legal push was receiving more support.

“117 people joined us initially. Now we’re about to add another 70. We want Methodist to be held accountable for their actions. We want the public to see that we should not have lost our jobs and that Methodist is not properly giving people informed consent or talking about adverse reactions,” the 39-year-old said.

“I chose not to get this shot because the risks for me are too great. I’ve personally seen adverse reactions within employees and patients. Everything from severe headaches to blood clots, to paralysis, to even death,” she said.

“At my age, my benefits from getting this vaccine aren’t much at all because I only have a one percent chance of dying from the virus anyways.”

Houston houses the world’s largest medical complex, the Texas Medical Center, a sprawling district that includes hospitals and research universities.

The Medical Center employs more than 106,000 health care workers in all, and sees some 10 million patients a year.

As of Tuesday, 65.4 percent of adults in the United States had received one or more doses of the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson shots.

And yet, surveys show that health care workers have been among the greatest vaccine skeptics.

AFP

Free COVID-19 Vaccines For All Indian Adults As Modi Hails ‘Yoga Shield’

Commuters on their vehicles stand in a traffic jam after the government eased restrictions imposed as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus, in Allahabad on June 21, 2021.
PHOTO: SANJAY KANOJIA / AFP

 

India opened up free vaccinations to all adults in an attempt to bolster its inoculation drive on Monday, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicked off a muted International Yoga Day hailing the practice’s “protective” properties against the coronavirus.

The country’s vaccination drive has significantly slowed in recent months due to a shortage of jabs and hesitancy, even as it battled a vicious surge in cases in April and May that overwhelmed the healthcare system in many places.

Case numbers have since fallen sharply and the authorities have again relaxed many restrictions, sparking fears of another wave.

The government had expanded the vaccine roll-out to include all adults aged below 45 on May 1, but states and private hospitals had to procure and buy the shots themselves for the younger age group, leading to confusion and shortages.

READ ALSO: Russian Employees Rejecting COVID-19 Vaccines Risk Unpaid Leave

But New Delhi later changed tack, announcing it would procure 75 percent of vaccine supplies and distribute them to states so that they can inoculate people for free.

So far it has administered 280 million shots, with barely four percent of people fully vaccinated.

The government aims to inoculate all of India’s almost 1.1 billion adults by the end of the year.

“The vaccination drive is expected to pick up speed now… the daily vaccination has picked up over the last week and is expected to strengthen further,” community health expert Rajib Dasgupta told AFP.

“However, both existing inequities, as well as hesitancy, merit deeper attention to make this a success.”

 

– Yoga push –

The free roll-out came as Modi marked the annual Yoga Day event with an early-morning address to the nation as it emerges from the surge, saying the practice had again proved itself to be a source of “inner strength”.

“When I speak to frontline warriors, they tell me that they have adopted yoga as a protective shield in their fight against coronavirus. Doctors have strengthened themselves with yoga and also used yoga to treat their patients,” Modi said.

Public parks were re-opened in Delhi on Monday, but the number of events for Yoga Day was cut back around the country for the second year running because of the pandemic.

Yoga Day — proposed by Modi and adopted by the United Nations in 2014 — is observed mostly in India, but also worldwide on the Northern Hemisphere’s longest day.

Throughout the pandemic, India’s government has touted yoga and herbal medicines — sales of which have boomed — to protect and give relief to people infected with the virus.

But the evidence is scant and the claims have faced pushback from India’s doctors, who wore black armbands last month to protest Baba Ramdev, a guru with ties to the Modi administration who has said yoga can cure Covid-19.

India is the world’s second most infected nation with nearly 30 million cases and more than 388,000 deaths, although experts say the actual toll could be much higher due to underreporting.

Authorities said late Monday that the Amarnath Yatra — an annual Hindu pilgrimage to a cave shrine in Kashmir that draws some 300,000 participants — would be canceled for the second straight year due to the pandemic.

AFP

Katy Perry, Beckham, Others Call On G7 To Share COVID-19 Vaccines With Poor Nations

Katy Perry, Beckham, Sergio Ramos appeal to the group to pledge 150 million doses.

 

 

Nearly 30 celebrities, from singer Katy Perry to footballer David Beckham, called on the G7 Tuesday to share COVID-19 vaccines with poorer countries ahead of a summit in Britain this weekend.

The entertainment and sports figures urged the seven countries — France, Italy, the UK, Canada, Japan, Germany, and the United States — to pledge at least 20 percent of their supply between June and August, amounting to 150 million doses.

“The world has spent a year and a half battling the Covid-19 pandemic, but the virus is still spreading in many countries and producing new variants with the potential to put us all back where we started,” the missive warned.

“This means more school closures, more healthcare disruptions, and greater economic fallout — threating the futures of families and children everywhere,” it said.

Among the other signatories on the letter, which included a number of UNICEF goodwill ambassadors, were actors Liam Neeson, Orlando Bloom, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Whoopi Goldberg.

Singers Billie Eilish and Angelique Kidjo plus football star Sergio Ramos, Formula One driver Fernando Alonso and tennis star Andy Murray also signed the letter.

Britain is hosting the G7 summit in Cornwall in southwestern England starting Friday.

WHO Approves China’s Sinovac COVID-19 Vaccine

(FILES) The World Health Organization on June 1, 2021 approved the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use — the second Chinese jab to receive the WHO’s green light. (Photo by Gent SHKULLAKU / AFP)

 

 

The World Health Organization on Tuesday approved the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use — the second Chinese jab to receive the WHO’s green light.

The UN health agency signed off on the two-dose vaccine, which is already being deployed in several countries around the world.

“WHO today validated the Sinovac-CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use,” it said in a statement.

The move gives countries, funders, procuring agencies and communities “assurance that it meets international standards for safety, efficacy and manufacturing”.

Last month Sinopharm became the first Chinese vaccine to be approved by the WHO.

The organisation has also given emergency use listing to vaccines being made by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and the AstraZeneca jab being produced in India, South Korea and the EU, which it counts separately.

WHO’s listing paves the way for countries worldwide to quickly approve and import a vaccine for distribution, especially those states without an international-standard regulator of their own.

It also opens the door for the jabs to enter the Covax global vaccine-sharing scheme, which aims to provide equitable access to doses around the world, particularly in poorer countries.

Currently, only AstraZeneca and some Pfizer jabs are flowing through the scheme.

“The world desperately needs multiple Covid-19 vaccines to address the huge access inequity across the globe,” said Mariangela Simao, the WHO’s assistant director-general for access to health products.

“We urge manufacturers to participate in the Covax facility, share their know-how and data, and contribute to bringing the pandemic under control.”

The Sinovac jab is already in use in 22 territories around the world, according to an AFP count.

Apart from China, the countries using Sinovac include Chile, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Thailand and Turkey.

The WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation have reviewed the jab and published their advice on its usage.

“WHO recommends the vaccine for use in adults 18 years and older, in a two-dose schedule with a spacing of two to four weeks,” the agency said.

“Vaccine efficacy results showed that the vaccine prevented symptomatic disease in 51 percent of those vaccinated and prevented severe Covid-19 and hospitalisation in 100 percent of the studied population.”

PTF Transitions To Steering Committee, To Function Until December

A file photo of the SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha, addressing reporters at the PTF briefing in Abuja.

 

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 will now operate as the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19.

President Muhammadu Buhari gave the approval for the transitioning of the PTF to PSC with effect from April 1 and would function up till December 31, 2021, Mr Boss Mustapha revealed at a press briefing on Tuesday in Abuja.

Mustapha, who is the PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), explained that the PSC would operate with a modified mandate to reflect the non-emergent status of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the current phase of the national response closes, he warned that a critical and challenging phase might be looming, considering the ongoing developments around the world.

The SGF also announced that Nigeria has taken delivery of additional 100,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from the government of India.

According to him, this donation of the latest batch of vaccine doses would boost the number of Nigerians to be vaccinated by about 50,000.

READ ALSO: Buhari Extends PTF Mandate Till March 2021

The approval for the transitioning of the PTF to PSC follows the expiration of the extension of the mandate of the task force by the President.

The President had received the end-of-year report of the PTF on December 22, 2020, after which he extended its mandate until the end of March 2021, bearing in mind the new surge in the number of cases and the bid for vaccines at the time.

He had directed the task force to coordinate the process for planning and the strategy for accessing, delivery, and the administration of vaccines using the existing health structures that have worked in the past in vaccine administration in the country.

President Buhari had also asked the PTF to engage with authorities in various states to assume full ownership of that stage of the response by deploying legal structures and resources, including enforcement to manage the pandemic within their jurisdictions.

The task force was equally authorised, along with the Nigeria Immigration Service, to ensure that all in-bound passengers who failed to show up for the post-arrival COVID-19 test were sanctioned within the ambit of the law, for breaching the public health protocols.