COVID-19: UK Offers Kenya 817,000 Vaccine Doses

A file photo of a health worker preparing an injection of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. ALAIN JOCARD / AFP

 

Britain said Wednesday it was offering 817,000 coronavirus vaccine doses to Kenya, as it rolls out a promised 100 million jabs for global distribution by next June.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will formally agree on the donation when he meets Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta at the UK leader’s country retreat at Chequers, northwest of London, later on, Wednesday.

The pair are due to host a fundraising summit in London on Thursday — attended by other world leaders as well as business, charity, education and youth representatives — focused on global education efforts.

Around half of the donated Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doses will be dispatched to Nairobi this week, Downing Street said ahead of the meetings.

“As friends and allies, we are sharing UK vaccine doses to support Kenya’s fight against the pandemic,” Johnson added in a statement.

“From boosting economic growth to addressing climate change and getting girls into school, the UK and Kenya are working hand-in-hand to deliver a more secure and prosperous world.”

Britain has committed to sharing 100 million Covid-19 vaccine shots by the middle of next year through the Covax programme, which aims to ensure fair distribution of jabs, and directly to individual countries.

It will begin by donating nine million jabs, with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab set to unveil more details about the initial recipients later Wednesday.

The commitments stem from G7 pledges, unveiled at a UK-hosted summit in June, to provide at least one billion doses internationally through sharing and financing schemes.

– IMF growth boost –
The United States has said it will donate 500 million jabs to 92 poorer nations, while European Union members have agreed to donate at least 100 million by the end of 2021.

Richer countries, in particular Britain, have faced criticism for failing to start donating to poorer countries which are lagging far behind in their vaccination drives.

The UK has fully jabbed more than 70 percent of adults, and the government lifted all remaining pandemic curbs on day-to-day life in England last week.

Daily infection rates in Britain appear to be in decline — boosting hopes of a strong economic recovery.

“I’m very pleased that this is a country that now has the highest proportion of vaccinated adults of any country in the world,” Johnson told LBC radio, in an interview recorded Tuesday.

“There will still be bumps on the road, but I think you’ll see a story of steady economic recovery and perhaps quite fast economic recovery as well.”

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday forecast that Britain’s economy would grow by 7.0 percent this year, the joint fastest of any G7 country alongside the United States.

But the IMF also warned that the uneven distribution of vaccines is widening disparities as rich countries pick up speed and leave developing nations behind.

Vaccine Used In Nigeria Can Protect Against Indian COVID-19 Variant – NPHCDA

In this file photo, a vial containing the COVID-19 vaccine by AstraZeneca and a syringe are seen on a table. AFP
In this file photo, a vial containing the COVID-19 vaccine by AstraZeneca and a syringe are seen on a table. AFP

 

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency has called on Nigerians to continue to take the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Addressing reporters on Tuesday in Abuja, the Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, stated that the vaccine was not only effective but was capable of protecting people against the Indian variant of the virus.

“Recent research from Public Health England (PHE) shows that the Indian (Delta) variant B.1.617.2 is 92% susceptible to Oxford/AstraZeneca,” he said at the briefing to update Nigerians on the status of COVID-19 vaccination.

Shuaib added, “It is, therefore, comforting to know that the vaccine used in Nigeria can protect against this variant that caused high morbidity and mortality in India. However, it underscores the need for us to ramp up our vaccination to more Nigerians.”

He announced that the Nigerian government has reopened the administration of the first dose of the vaccine effective from Tuesday, in response to requests by Nigerians to be vaccinated.

The NPHCDA boss noted that the vaccination for the first dose was officially closed on May 24 and appealed to persons of 18 years and above that were yet to take the jab to visit the nearest vaccination site for the first dose of the vaccine.

He explained that such persons would be due to receive their second dose of the jab in 12 weeks, noting that Nigeria would have received the next consignment of vaccines.

The NPHCDA boss said dedicated teams have continued to make strides in the vaccine rollout, working hand-in-hand with the local communities all across the country.

As of June 15, he revealed that the agency has administered 1,978,808 and 680,345 first and second doses of the vaccine respectively.

Shuaib called on all Nigerians who have received their first dose to check their vaccination cards for the date of their first dose.

He asked them to ensure that they receive the second dose between six and 12 weeks from the date they took the first dose, to gain full protection against the COVID-19 virus.

NAFDAC Concludes Final Test, Certifies AstraZeneca Vaccines Safe For Use In Nigeria

In this file photo, a vial containing the COVID-19 vaccine by AstraZeneca and a syringe are seen on a table. AFP
In this file photo, a vial containing the COVID-19 vaccine by AstraZeneca and a syringe are seen on a table. AFP

 

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has certified the AstraZeneca vaccine safe for use in Nigeria.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, announced this on Friday at an event held at the National Hospital in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

He explained that the government agency cleared the vaccine for use in the country after it concluded its final test on it.

“The long-awaited day is here on which Nigerians can now join others in the global community to be vaccinated against the dreaded COVID-19 virus.

“For us in the health sector, it is a relief and the marking of the start of a tedious but hopeful exercise to see our fellow citizens develop immunity against this virus,” he told the gathering at the event.

Ehanire added, “I am also relieved again to announce that at 12 minutes past midnight today (Friday), I got a text message informing me that NAFDAC has certified this vaccine for use, otherwise we will not be sitting here today.”

Amid the rising figure of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the fight against the outbreak received a major boost on Tuesday as Nigeria took delivery of its first batch of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines 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.

The first shipment of 3,924,000 doses of the vaccines arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja on Tuesday afternoon via an Emirates airplane from India.

In preparation for the distribution, the Federal Government had said the vaccines would be administered in the order of priority, with the frontline health workers on the top of the list.

It noted that it would also consider the elderly and the strategic leaders in the country – such as the President and other key public office holders in the country.

PHOTOS: Nigeria Receives 3.92million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses

This is the first COVID-19 vaccine shipment to Nigeria.

 

Nigeria on Tuesday received 3.92million COVID-19 vaccine doses.

The NAFDAC-approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, via an Emirates airline.

Officials including the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, and the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire were at the airport to receive the vaccines.

READ ALSO: Boko Haram Insurgents Abduct Aid Workers In Borno

The World Health Organisation, African Region in a tweet congratulated Nigeria for successfully receiving the vaccines.

 

“3.92 million #COVID19 vaccine doses from #COVAX have just arrived in Abuja, Nigeria. This first COVID-19 vaccine shipment to Africa’s most populous nation marks a huge step towards #VaccinEquity. Congratulations #Nigeria!,” WHO said.

 

See below photos of the vaccines on arrival at the airport in Abuja…

South Africa Open To Sell Or Swap AstraZeneca Shots Says Minister

An illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached and syringes, with the logo of the University of Oxford and its partner British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, on November 17, 2020. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP
An illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached and syringes, with the logo of the University of Oxford and its partner British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, on November 17, 2020.
JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

 

South Africa is considering trading its doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which may be less effective against a local virus variant, and beginning its inoculation campaign with Johnson & Johnson shots instead, the health minister said Wednesday.

The country worst-hit by the pandemic in Africa has suspended its vaccine rollout — meant to begin with Oxford/AstraZeneca this week — after a study found the jab failed to prevent mild and moderate illness caused by a variant discovered in South Africa dubbed 501Y.V2.

The vaccination delay has set back an ambitious plan to inoculate around 40 million people — 67 percent of the population — by the end of 2021.

“Given the outcomes of the efficacy studies (government) will continue with the planned phase one vaccination using the Johnson & Johnson vaccines instead of the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told a press briefing.

“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been proven effective against the 501Y.V2 variant.”

He did not say when immunisation would begin.

Meantime officials are deciding on the fate of more than a million Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines already secured from the Serum Institute of India (SII) and set to expire at the end of April, though that date could potentially be adjusted.

Mkhize pointed at several options, including selling or swapping the doses with countries tackling the original coronavirus strain.

Scientific advisors have also suggested administering the vaccine to several thousand people within South Africa to assess whether it can still prevent severe infection from 501Y.V2.

“Depending on their advice, the vaccine will be swapped before the expiry date,” he said, adding that “there are already countries who are asking to sell it to them”.

“Our scientists will continue with further deliberations on the AstraZeneca vaccine use in South Africa,” Mkhize explained, assuring that nothing would go to waste.

The World Health Organization announced later on Wednesday that the Oxford/AstraZeneca formula could be used in settings where “variants are present”, as well as on people over the age of 65.

Local vaccine production

South Africa was slow to catch on to the global vaccine scramble and only received its first jabs, one million AstraZeneca shots, on February 1.

An additional 500,000 doses have been purchased from the SII and are meant to be delivered this month.

South Africa has ordered nine million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines, of which a small shipment is expected to arrive next week.

But Mkhize said the first consignment would likely be used as “research stock”.

Vaccines have also been secured from US drugmaker Pfizer, the WHO-backed Covax facility and the African Union — bringing the announced total to just over 40 million.

Pfizer/BioNTech doses should be available in time for the first rollout phase, Mkhize added.

South African pharmaceutical giant Aspen, a contracted Johnson & Johnson vaccine manufacturer, is meanwhile striving to produce its first doses next month.

“They are very determined to fast-track this production in South Africa,” Mkhize said, adding that the stock would then be available in April.

Aspen told AFP it had “no further information” on its agreement with Johnson & Johnson and that speculations were “premature”.

South Africa is emerging from a second wave of coronavirus infections largely fuelled by 501Y.V2, said to be more transmissible than the original form.

The country has recorded close to 1.5 million cases and over 46,800 deaths.

Its now dominant variant has spread significantly across southern Africa, prompting a handful of countries to reconsider the use of Oxford/AstraZeneca shots.

Eswatini’s health minister on Tuesday said it would no longer be using the vaccine, while Malawi’s government is pondering a similar decision.

South Africa Goes For Johnson & Johnson Vaccine – Minister

File: CESAR MANSO / AFP

 

South Africa will begin its coronavirus inoculation campaign with Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the health minister said on Wednesday, after withholding the Oxford/AstraZeneca formula over doubts about effectiveness.

The country worst-hit by the pandemic in Africa has suspended its vaccine rollout — meant to begin with Oxford/AstraZeneca this week — after scientists found the shot failed to prevent mild and moderate illness caused by a local virus variant known as 501Y.V2.

“Given the outcomes of the efficacy studies…, (government) will continue with the planned phase one vaccination using the Johnson & Johnson vaccines instead of the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told a press briefing.

“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been proven effective against the 501Y.V2 variant.”

He did not say when immunisation would begin.

To date South Africa has ordered nine million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines, of which a small shipment is expected to arrive next week.

READ ALSO: Prince Charles Receives First Dose Of COVID-19 Vaccine

However, the first consignment will probably be used as “research stock,” Mkhize said.

South African pharmaceutical giant Aspen, a contracted Johnson & Johnson vaccine manufacturer, is striving to produce its first doses next month.

“They are very determined to fast-track this production in South Africa,” Mkhize said, adding that the stock would then be available in April.

South Africa’s vaccination delay has set back an ambitious aim to inoculate around 40 million people — 67 percent of the population — by the end of 2021.

The country was slow to catch on to the global vaccine scramble and only received its first jabs on February 1.

The one million AstraZeneca shots were produced by the Serum Institute of India, from which an additional 500,000 doses have been purchased.

South Africa is considering either selling or swapping these doses with countries facing the original strain of coronavirus, said the minister, insisting that nothing would go to waste.

Scientists have suggested administering some of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to several thousand people in South Africa to see if it can still prevent severe infection from the new variant.

Additional vaccines are being secured from US drugmaker Pfizer, and through the World Health Organisation-backed Covax facility and the African Union.

South Africa is emerging from a second wave of coronavirus infections largely fuelled by its virus variant, said to be more transmissible than the original form.

The country has recorded close to 1.5 million cases and over 46,800 deaths.

AstraZeneca COVID-19 Jab ‘Less Effective Against S.African Strain’

An illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached and syringes, with the logo of the University of Oxford and its partner British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, on November 17, 2020. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP
An illustration picture shows vials with Covid-19 Vaccine stickers attached and syringes, with the logo of the University of Oxford and its partner British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, on November 17, 2020. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine fails to prevent mild and moderate cases of the South African coronavirus strain, according to research reported in the Financial Times.

But in its study, due to be published Monday, the pharma group said it could still have an effect on severe disease — although there is not yet enough data to make a definitive judgement.

None of the 2,000 participants in the trial developed serious symptoms, the FT said, but AstraZeneca said the sample size was too small to make a full determination.

“We may not be reducing the total number of cases but there is still protection against deaths, hospitalisations and severe disease,” said Sarah Gilbert, who led the development of the vaccine with the Oxford Vaccine Group.

It could also be “some time” before they determine its effectiveness for older people in fighting the strain, which is a growing presence in Britain, she told BBC television.

“We might have to put it together from a number of studies,” she said.

Researchers are currently working to update the vaccine, and “have a version with the South African spike sequence in the works” that they would “very much like” to be ready for the autumn, said Gilbert.

READ ALSO: Telemedicine Takes Off In Germany During Pandemic

UK vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said the government’s strategy to combat the spread of the strain was to continue with its mass vaccination programme “as rapidly as possible” as well as “hyper-local surge testing” in areas where it is detected.

Britain is in the midst of a massive vaccination drive, which it sees as its way out of one of the worst outbreaks in the world that has seen more than 112,000 fatalities among those testing positive for the virus.

It has so far vaccinated over 11 million people using either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/Astrazeneca shots.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has been the source of an ugly row with the European Union, which is angry that the Anglo-Swedish firm was unable to meet the delivery target agreed with Brussels.

France, Germany and Switzerland are also among countries to recommend the jab not be used in the elderly due to a lack of data.