Los Angeles To Make COVID-19 Vaccines Compulsory For Schoolkids

File photo: A healthcare worker fills a syringe with Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at a community vaccination event in a predominately Latino neighborhood in Los Angeles, California, August 11, 2021. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)

 

Covid-19 vaccines are expected to be made compulsory Thursday for Los Angeles schoolchildren aged 12 and over, the first such requirement by a major education board in the United States.

The vote by the Los Angeles Unified School District — the second biggest in the country — comes as the nation grapples with surging coronavirus numbers, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant.

It also comes as President Joe Biden is set to unveil vaccine mandates for federal employees, as part of a plan to wrestle the Covid caseload under control.

Around 600,000 students attend a public school managed by LAUSD, and the expected passage of the motion at Thursday’s meeting could set a precedent for school boards across the country.

The district already mandates regular testing for children, and masks are required on campus, both indoors and out. Staff must be vaccinated.

Under the proposal, all children attending in-person classes would need to have their first dose by November 21, and their second by December 19.

A child who turns 12 will have 30 days to get their first shot.

The plan has the support of teachers’ unions and many parents, but — as elsewhere in the United States — a significant and vocal minority is strongly opposed to vaccines, despite overwhelming scientific evidence that they are safe and effective.

READ ALSO: France Grants Citizenship To 12,000 Foreign COVID-19 Frontline Workers

Local health officials say around 58 percent of those aged between 12 and 18 have had at least one shot.

The motion, which is expected to pass, says action is required to stem the rising number of infections among schoolchildren, which has threatened to derail a so-far successful return to classrooms after a lengthy hiatus last year.

Covid-19 “is a material threat to the health and safety of all students within the LAUSD community, and is a further threat to the successful return to continuous in-person instruction,” it says.

Vaccines, masks and other mitigation measures against Covid-19 have become deeply political issues in the United States.

Republican-led states and counties, citing personal freedoms, have resisted imposing rules that doctors say would protect their populations.

A free and widely available vaccine program is credited with taming earlier surges in the coronavirus, a disease that has claimed more than 650,000 lives and sickened millions more in the United States.

But Delta’s emergence has threatened to reverse progress, and case numbers have risen nationwide in recent months, concentrated in places where vaccine take-up is low.

AFP

COVID-19 Vaccines: Next Step Of Response Will Depend On Health Workers – Ihekweazu

File photo of NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu during a meeting with Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma in Owerri on April 18, 2020.

 

The next step in Nigeria’s COVID-19 response will be dependent on health workers, says the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu.

Nigeria commenced its second phase of vaccination on Monday, and within the coming weeks, is expected to roll out over four million doses of the Moderna vaccine.

Speaking at the flag-off ceremony which was held at the Federal Medical Centre in Jabi, Abuja, Dr Ihekweazu said healthcare workers are the ones who will play the next pertinent role in the nation’s response to the disease.

He said, “the next step of this will depend on healthcare workers, the distribution; and making the vaccines available to the last mile will depend on an incredible group of Nigerians that have been working hard for the last 18 months to deliver vaccines, test people, do contact tracing and treat individuals”.

While disclosing that the country’s treatment centres are filling up again, the NCDC boss said health officials are working tirelessly to beat the pandemic.

The NCDC boss commended the frontline officials for their efforts and urged them not to rest on their oars.

He also called on Nigerians to keep supporting health personnel as they deliver the vaccines nationwide. He asked the citizens to act responsibly as the second phase of the vaccination begins.

READ ALSO: Fiji Mandates COVID-19 Vaccines For Civil Servants

READ ALSO: Nigeria Kicks Off Phase Two Of Covid Vaccination

Phase II Begins

The Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, and others watch as a man takes the COVID-19 vaccine on August 16, 2021. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The second phase of the vaccination programme commenced days after the US donated over four million doses of the Moderna vaccine.

The flag-off ceremony was attended by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha

Others were the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire; the Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora; and the Medical Director of the FMC, Professor Aliyu Ahmed.

The exercise was scheduled for August 10 but later postponed due to “purely administrative” reasons, according to Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed.

Apart from the over four million Moderna doses, the government has also taken delivery of 177,600 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

The single-shot J&J vaccine was acquired through the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) with support from Afrexim bank.

The J&J vaccines are expected to be deployed in hard-to-reach areas, to eliminate the need for travel for a second dose.

Only about one percent of Nigeria’s population has been fully vaccinated, so far.

NYC Orders COVID-19 Vaccines Or Weekly Tests For All Public Workers

File Photo: Carl Court / POOL / AFP

 

New York City will require all municipal workers to get vaccinated against coronavirus or take a weekly test, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday as the Delta variant fuels an uptick in cases in the metropolis.

The order will go into effect from September 13 and will apply to more than 300,000 city personnel, including police officers, fire fighters and teachers.

“This is about our recovery. This is about keeping people safe,” de Blasio told a press conference.

The move comes after the mayor announced last week that the city’s 30,000 public hospital workers would need to get vaccinated or face weekly testing from August 2.

The measure announced Monday is the most stringent measure taken so far in the US megacity to boost vaccination rates following a campaign based on voluntary participation and incentives.

In New York, 59 percent of the entire population has received at least one dose of a vaccine against Covid-19 but the speed of injections has slowed.

Controversy is building in the United States over what steps should be taken to increase vaccination rates against the Delta variant, which accounts for more than 89 percent of US infections, according to estimates.

READ ALSO: World Bank To Finance Extra COVID-19 Jabs For Poorer Nations

Many health officials are pushing to make vaccination mandatory, at least for certain segments of the population.

On Monday, 57 medical groups representing millions of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health workers called for mandatory vaccinations for all health staff.

“The health and safety of US workers, families, communities, and the nation depends on it,” said the statement, whose signatories included the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association.

Several Republican-led states have instead passed laws banning coercive measures, though, particularly in schools.

The September 13 date will coincide with the return of one million students to New York’s public schools for the new academic year.

AFP

 

Taraba Receives 56,250 Doses Of AstraZeneca Vaccines

Officials in Taraba receive the AstraZeneca vaccines on behalf of the state government on March 11, 2021.

 

The Taraba State government has taken delivery of its first batch of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines for onward vaccination of its residents through the Primary Health Care Development Agency (PHCDA).

A total of 56,250 doses of the vaccines were sent to the state via the Yola International Airport in the north-eastern part of the country.

The Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Health, Dr Ebenezer Apake, received the vaccines on behalf of the state government on Thursday.

He noted that at least 80 per cent of the state’s population needed to be vaccinated in order to be protected against the pandemic.

“These vaccines, even though developed in record time, should be effective in reducing the severity of cases,” said Apake who urged residents to avail themselves for vaccination.

Despite receiving the vaccines, he said the state government would not in any way lower its guard on adherence to the safety protocols of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

The agency saddled with the responsibility of vaccination – PHCDA – said it has trained a total of 254 staff to carry out the exercise, as well as sensitised residents on what the vaccine was about.

Its Executive Secretary, Aminu Jauro, noted that they have intensified their efforts in curbing the spread of the disease across the 168 wards of the state.

He disabused the minds of residents on the insinuations that the vaccine was allergic, saying frontline health workers would receive the first jab in Taraba.

“To allay the fears of residents towards the uptake of the vaccines, we have carried out sensitisation workshops with all stakeholders – which is very key,” Jauro said.

In his remarks, the coordinator of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Taraba, Farouk Umar, said they would provide the needed technical support to the state health sector.

“We are part of the planning for the coming of the vaccines to administration for proper following of the right protocol,” he said.

The arrival of the Oxford Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccines in Jalingo is seen as a sign of hope in the midst of despair in view of the rising number of cases in the state.

Since the beginning of the outbreak in Nigeria, Taraba has recorded 881 infections, out of which 55 patients are on admission and 22 deaths.

Lagos Govt Receives COVID-19 Vaccines

The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Health, Oreoluwa Finnih, shared a photo of the delivery of the vaccines on Twitter.

 

The Lagos State government has received doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from the Federal Government.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu disclosed this on Tuesday at an event held at Police College in Ikeja, but he did not reveal the figure of vaccine doses delivered to the state.

The event was organised by the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation to commemorate the 2021 International Women’s Day.

In his remarks, Governor Sanwo-Olu revealed that the state government received the vaccines at about 4am on Tuesday, noting that they have been kept in a safe place.

He assured the people of the state that the government would soon commence the vaccination exercise.

The governor stated that this would be carried out in line with the scheduled guidelines laid down by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).

He, therefore, appealed to the residents to continue to keep to all the COVID-19 protocols such as wearing of facemasks, washing and sanitising their hands, as well as observing social distancing.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Health, Oreoluwa Finnih, shared a photo and a video of the delivery of the vaccines on Twitter.

 

Nigeria took delivery of about four million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines last week, as part of an overall 16 million doses planned to be delivered to the country in batches over the next few months.

The vaccines were provided by COVAX, in an unprecedented global effort to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

On Saturday last week, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, received their first shots of the vaccines.

Both leaders took the vaccine jabs publicly at the State House in Abuja, in the presence of some members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

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.

How Vaccines Became Ammunition In Global Diplomacy

KIRKLAND, WA – DECEMBER 28: Pharmacists prepare doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Life Care Center of Kirkland on December 28, 2020 in Kirkland, Washington. Karen Ducey/Getty Images/AFP

 

Covid-19 vaccines are not just coveted as protection from the deadly virus, they are also a currency in the battle for global influence, experts say, especially between China and Russia.

While the United States has been saving its vaccines for Americans, and Europeans struggle with delivery, Beijing and Moscow, as well as India, have been brushing up their prestige by sharing vaccine stocks with poor, vulnerable countries.

“Getting these vaccines into the arms of billions of people is now the most pressing challenge for the international community. This is, in a manner of speaking, the ‘new arms race’,” according to The Soufan Center, a research body.

China, which was already ahead of the game at the start of the pandemic with the distribution of masks, has been supplying several countries with vaccines, sometimes for free.

Some 200,000 doses each went to Algeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe, 500,000 to Pakistan and 750,000 to the Dominican Republic.

READ ALSO: Israel, Denmark, Austria Agree Deal For Vaccine Development

“China managed to present itself as a champion of the southern countries at a time when the north showed complete selfishness,” Bertrand Badie, a professor for international relations at Sciences-Po university in Paris, told AFP.

Russia, meanwhile, is proudly distributing its Sputnik V vaccine, named after the first satellites launched by the Soviet Union.

At first derided in Europe, the vaccine has gained in credibility after a positive evaluation in the medical journal The Lancet.

Three EU countries — Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic — opted for the Russian vaccine without waiting for approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), as Europe struggles with long delays in vaccine dose deliveries.

– ‘Way to reclaim power’ –

“For Russia, to show the world that ultimately it suffered less from the coronavirus than the United States, and that Russia is far more efficient (with vaccines) than western European countries, is a way to reclaim power,” Badie told AFP.

“In international relations, the image you project is decisive,” he said, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin has an “obsessive will to re-establish Russian power, have parity with the western world, and to be respected”.

Russia is, however, held back by its limited production capacity, and has had to share the spoils of new global influence with China.

Beijing has helped Serbia to become continental Europe’s Covid vaccination leader.

Hungary has ordered five millions of doses from Sinopharm China, enough to vaccinate a third of its population.

“Beijing has been linking measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic in aid recipient countries with the prospect of post-pandemic cooperation within the BRI framework,” the massive Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure project, according to SWP, a German political research foundation.

“Above all, Beijing wants to be perceived internationally as a ‘responsible great power’,” it said.

– “A third Half-Time” –

India, which is a vaccine production giant, has begun supplying its neighbours, including Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Smaller countries are also using vaccines as diplomatic ammunition.

Israel, considered as the world champion of vaccination, has supplied doses to Honduras, and also to the Czech Republic which is planning to open a diplomatic representation in Jerusalem.

The United Arab Emirates has been supplying targeted donations to Gaza, a Palestinian territory under Israeli blockade, and to Tunisia.

The EU is falling behind diplomatically, but the race is not over, according to a senior EU diplomat.

The Russians and Chinese proceeded “in a rather uncontrolled way, without going though all the validation steps”, the diplomat said.

“However this is a marathon, there will be a second half-time, maybe even a third,” he said.

AFP

WHO Slams Rich Countries For Hogging COVID-19 Vaccines

 

The World Health Organization on Monday blasted wealthy countries for not only hogging Covid vaccines but in doing so, hindering the pathway for poorer nations to get them too.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said some rich countries’ direct deals with manufacturers had meant that previously-agreed vaccine allocations for poorer countries, via the Covax programme, were being reduced.

The UN health agency chief said the money was there to procure doses for some of the poorest countries, following fresh contributions from the United States, the European Union and Germany — but it was worthless if there was nothing to buy.

READ ALSO: Biden Reforming PPP To Target Overlooked Small Businesses

Tedros urged wealthy nations to start checking first as to whether their own deals with pharmaceutical companies were undermining Covax, which poorer countries are relying on as they await their first doses.

“Even if you have the money, if you cannot use the money to buy vaccines, having the money doesn’t mean anything,” he told a virtual press conference with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

– ‘Respect the deals’ –

The ONE Campaign, a global organisation co-founded by U2 singer Bono, said last week that members of the Group of Seven top industrialised nations along with the rest of the EU plus Australia had collectively bought nearly 1.25 billion more doses than they needed to inoculate every member of their populations against Covid-19.

“Some high-income countries are actually approaching manufacturers to secure more vaccines, which is affecting the deals with Covax — and even the amount that was allocated for Covax was reduced because of this,” Tedros said.

“We can only have vaccines delivered to the countries who are members of Covax if the high-income countries cooperate in respecting the deals that Covax did.”

The first wave of Covax vaccines are to be shipped out between late February and the end of June.

Some 145 participating economies are set to receive 337.2 million doses — enough to vaccinate a little over three percent of their combined populations.

Covax has said it hopes to raise the figure to up to 27 percent in lower-income countries by the end of December.

– ‘Increase the pie’ –

The world’s biggest vaccine maker, India’s Serum Institute, on Monday urged other countries to be “patient” about it supplying anti-coronavirus shots, saying it has been instructed to prioritise its home market.

Steinmeier said that although countries were focused on protecting their own citizens from coronavirus, it made sense for the wealthier nations speeding ahead in the vaccine race to ensure that people in poorer nations were jabbed at the same time.

“Governments are first and foremost — and understandably so — committed to their respective publics,” he said.

However, “if we refuse to grant the necessary solidarity, we must not be surprised if other countries come in to fill this vacuum by delivering earlier what is required — and using that that for their own purposes.”

Tedros called for intellectual property rights on Covid-19 medical goods to be waived — a move which could facilitate greater knowledge-sharing and the rapid scale-up of production sites.

The idea, currently before the World Trade Organization, is staunchly opposed by pharmaceutical giants.

Tedros also urged pharmaceutical companies that were not making their own Covid-19 vaccines to turn over their facilities to produce other companies’ doses, as Sanofi has done for the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.

“If we increase the pie, then better opportunities to share it equitably too.”

Steinmeier however said he did not think a waiver for patents or licensing “would be the right approach”.

Vaccine Production Must Catch Up To Science – EU Chief

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gives a press statement following a phone call meeting with Britain's Prime Minister, at the European Commission in Brussels on December 13, 2020. Olivier HOSLET / POOL / AFP
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gives a press statement following a phone call meeting with Britain’s Prime Minister, at the European Commission in Brussels on December 13, 2020. Olivier HOSLET / POOL / AFP

 

Europe’s race to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines must accelerate to catch up to scientific breakthroughs and outpace emerging variants, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday.

“We underestimated the difficulty related to mass production. Normally, it takes five to 10 years to produce a new vaccine. We did it in 10 months. This is a huge scientific success, and we should be rightly proud — but in a way, science has outstripped industry,” she told the European Parliament.

In her first public admission to Europeans — outside of some select media interviews — von der Leyen said her Commission had made missteps in procuring vaccines on behalf all EU countries.

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

But she defended the overall strategy.

“We were late to authorise. We were too optimistic when it came to massive production. And perhaps we were too confident that what we ordered would actually be delivered on time,” she said.

But to have allowed Europe’s wealthiest countries to grab vaccines for themselves and leave others in the cold “would have been, I think, the end of our community,” she said.

– ‘We got it right’ –

There were lessons to be learnt, von der Leyen said, and her Commission would do so.

They included getting more data shared between clinics in EU countries, improving regulations to allow the European Medicines Agency to move faster in authorising vaccines, and especially to clear industrial bottlenecks to vaccine production.

“Industry must adapt to the pace of science,” she said, noting that vaccines can contain as many as 400 ingredients and manufacturing involve as many as 100 companies.

A vaccine production task force under internal market commissioner Thierry Breton was charged with that mission, she said.

“We’re dealing with completely new mRNA vaccines never manufactured at scale before. One of the current bottlenecks is, for example, linked to synthetic molecules… we need more coordination on the supply of key ingredients.”

Von der Leyen warned that European scientists do not yet know if the vaccines will be effective against new mutant strains of the virus that are emerging.

“But we do know these variants will continue to emerge. And we do know that we need to anticipate and prepare immediately,” she warned.

She also said deeply regretted an aborted bid by the Commission last month to try to restrict vaccines being transported into Britain’s territory of Northern Ireland as part of a bitter row with Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, which has failed to deliver vaccine doses it promised to the EU.

But she stressed that “in the end, we got it right” and a hastily set-up EU vaccine export control scheme would not “restrict companies that are honouring their contracts with the European Union” and vaccines to most of the bloc’s neighbours would be unhindered.

The Commission, she emphasised, “will do its utmost to protect the peace of Northern Ireland, just as it has done throughout the entire Brexit process”.

COVID-19: Nigeria Records 27 New Deaths, 1,114 Fresh Cases

File Photo: A man reacts as a medical worker takes a swab from his nose during a community COVID-19 testing campaign in Abuja on April 15, 2020. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

Nigeria has recorded 27 new deaths from the coronavirus, even as the country recorded 1,114 fresh infections on Friday.

This was disclosed in the report published by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in the early hours of Saturday.

The new cases were recorded in 21 states and the Federal Capital Territory, with Lagos still leading with 408 new infections.

The FCT had 95 cases, Plateau-90 Ondo-66 Kaduna-63 Oyo-56 Borno-46 Imo-42 Edo-41 Ogun-37 Rivers-31 Ekiti-25 Yobe-20 Kano-18 Akwa Ibom-18 Delta-15 Osun-15 Kwara-11 Bayelsa-6 Nasarawa-6 Zamfara-4 and Bauchi-1.

102,780 are also said to have recovered, while the death toll now stands at 1,577.

 

 

Confirmed Cases by State

States AffectedNo. of Cases (Lab Confirmed)No. of Cases (on admission)No. DischargedNo. of Deaths
Lagos47,8797,99739,571311
FCT16,5655,46910,970126
Plateau7,8917417,09753
Kaduna7,5755686,95057
Oyo5,3641,1714,11083
Rivers5,2066914,43679
Edo3,7626013,022139
Ogun3,3145532,71942
Kano2,9313602,49477
Delta2,3155261,73752
Ondo2,2882372,00051
Kwara1,9343441,54941
Katsina1,8381101,70127
Nasarawa1,7641,42632513
Enugu1,7382961,42121
Gombe1,5911321,41742
Osun1,4893311,12632
Ebonyi1,3931661,19730
Abia1,2201141,09412
Bauchi1,14281,11717
Imo1,08823883218
Borno94613677436
Benue82926654320
Akwa Ibom80727752010
Anambra80745433419
Sokoto7182566726
Niger68825741714
Bayelsa6677057324
Adamawa63136324028
Ekiti5591164358
Jigawa4575639011
Taraba36711923315
Kebbi2675120313
Yobe241341998
Zamfara203101858
Cross River195417912
Kogi5032

 

As the virus surges on and calls for more testing intensify, the country is also looking to secure vaccines as soon as possible.

As of Thursday, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said Nigeria had secured an additional 41 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

However, the delivery date for the vaccines remains unknown as manufacturers struggle to meet global demand in time.

Read Also: COVID-19 Infection May Reduce Fertility In Men: Study

The 41 million doses were secured as part of efforts by an African Union task team to help countries on the continent gain equitable access to vaccines.

Also, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres said Thursday that conscious efforts have to be made to ensure that vaccines get to everyone.

Shortly after receiving his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in New York City, Guterres said the world must come together if progress is to be made.

Globally, at least 2,191,865 people have died from the virus since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to an AFP tally from official sources.

More than 101,436,360 cases have been registered.

The US remains the country that has suffered the highest toll with 433,206 deaths, followed by Brazil with 221,547 and Mexico with 155,145.

The number of deaths globally is, however, said to be underestimated as the toll is calculated from daily figures published by national health authorities and does not include later revisions by statistics agencies.

COVID-19 Vaccines Are Meant To Save Lives, Protect Everyone – Buhari

A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday urged Nigerians to support the federal government in its effort to curtail the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, especially as it relates to vaccine education.

The President made the appeal while receiving the leadership of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), led by its President-General and Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar.

Nigeria is currently battling a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic as cases continue to be recorded across the country.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Secures Additional 41 Million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses

“As Government continues to work towards managing this crisis, it is also critical that you lend your voices in support of those basic but fundamental protocols that can significantly curtail the spread of this disease – Washing of our hands, Using facemasks and ensuring social distancing as much as possible have been proven to be our first line of defense in the fight against this virus,” the President said.

“Furthermore and much more important, when the vaccines which we are working hard to procure for the nation arrive, please, please join in the drive to educate people that these vaccines are meant to save lives and protect everyone.”

On Thursday, Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said Nigeria had secured an additional 41 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

Shun ethnic prejudice

The President, while addressing the Muslim delegation, also warned against stoking ethnic and religious prejudices, according to a statement signed by spokesman Garba Shehu.

“The Federal Government will continue to promote religious freedom as it is a constitutional responsibility,” he said. I must thank the Muslim ummah for promoting inter-religious dialogue in the country. It is self-evident that if the country must work, we must continue to work together in spite of our ethnic, religious and political differences because Nigeria is our collective project.

“Accordingly, the Federal Government under my leadership does not and will not allow religious prejudice or partisanship to influence any of its decisions and policies. It is my solemn decision to be fair and just to all segments of society.”

Securing the nation

The President assured the delegation that government was doing all within its powers to bring the current state of insecurity to the barest minimum, calling on the local community to assist the security forces as they perform their roles:

“The Federal Government has worked tirelessly to combat insecurity and other challenges that are confronting the country. Security is a protracted problem but we are not relenting in our efforts. Not only are we equipping the military, we are also boosting their morale to perform their constitutional duties without undue interference. We are also encouraging locales to enhance their intelligence gathering and timely remitting to the security Agencies.

“I acknowledge that security is the first responsibility of Government but Government cannot do it alone. It requires stakeholders, such as yourselves. Therefore, I urge you to lend your support to the security agencies by providing information that may stem the tide of crimes and insecurity in the society.”

He also spoke on efforts of his administration towards making life better for the average Nigerian:

“We are diversifying the economy and putting appropriate mechanisms in place to reduce poverty and more fiercely combat corruption, regardless of the status of those involved.

“Programmes such as N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfer, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme and Home-Grown School Feeding are just some of the interventions made to empower Nigerians and cater for their needs.

“The National Social Investment Programme alone has directly benefited four million Nigerians through job training and financial assistance.”

President Buhari called on the leaders to continue “speaking to our people and to help amplify this message through your very tried and tested networks” and to give full backing to the Alternate School Programme which he launched on Tuesday.

He said the it was “designed to not only address our high out of school rates, but it will boost our levels of Girl Child education while also equipping our youth with the right tools in making decisions at every turn of their lives when confronted by peddlers of evil and hateful messages… and also address the public health crises that the world is currently facing.”

Avoid hate speech

Earlier in his address, Sultan Abubakar commended the President for the successes achieved so far in the Northeast, calling on the Government to deal decisively with the banditry that is raving the Northwestern States of Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and some parts of the North Central.

While expressing confidence that security forces, with better synergy among them, will overcome present challenges, he solicited for the cooperation of all the governors with the federal government irrespective of their political leanings, calling on Nigerians to support the new leadership of the armed forces.

The NSCIA leader also appealed to Nigerians, particularly religious leaders to refrain from making inflammatory comments that tend towards sowing discord in the polity and exacerbating the current level of insecurity in the land. He asked that religious leaders making subversive comments should be called to order.

The Sultan equally identified with the ‘Hate Speech Campaign’ of the Minister of Information and Culture. He said ‘Hate Speech’ is aggravating insecurity in the country and that “we have to act.”

US President-Elect Joe Biden Receives Second COVID-19 Vaccine Shot

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE – JANUARY 11: President-elect Joe Biden receives the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination from Chief Nurse Executive Ric Cuming at ChristianaCare Christiana Hospital on January 11, 2021. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

 

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday received his second Covid-19 shot, and said that getting vaccines into people’s arms would be a “number one priority” for his incoming administration.

It comes as vaccine rollout has faltered badly in the world’s hardest-hit country, where some 375,000 people have died from the coronavirus and about 3,000 more are dying every day.

Some 25.5 million first doses of Covid vaccines have been shipped out to hospitals, clinics and nursing homes across the country, but only around 9 million have been injected, according to official data.

The 78-year-old incoming president arrived at the Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware in the early afternoon, removed his blazer, and thanked the nurse who injected his left arm with the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

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“My number one priority is getting vaccine in people’s arms, like we just did today, as rapidly as we can,” he told reporters, adding that he would be holding a virtual meeting with his coronavirus team later on, and announcing a new strategy on Thursday.

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE – JANUARY 11: President-elect Joe Biden puts on a mask after receiving his second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination at ChristianaCare Christiana Hospital on January 11, 2021. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

 

“Three to four thousand people a day dying is just beyond the pale… it’s wrong, and we can do a lot to change it.”

He emphasized the need to continue social distancing and mask wearing, and added that he was “appalled” that Republican lawmakers refused to wear masks when they were forced into a security lockdown during last week’s Capitol attack by supporters of President Donald Trump.

“I think it’s irresponsible. It’s not a political issue, it’s an issue of public safety.”

Biden has also pledged to push for more direct stimulus checks to taxpayers, and said he was speaking with Republican lawmakers about moving on a second package “sooner rather than later.”