Crude oil price crashed below $30 on Sunday evening’s market-opening after Saudi Arabia launched a price war in reaction to Russia’s decision not to cut output. This represents a 30% drop in one day – the worst trading day since the thirties and the lowest price in four years.
Oil Benchmark: Brent Crude Oil, which Nigeria’s 2020 budget is benchmarked against, fell from $45 per barrel to $31.52 as at the time of writing this article. The oil price crash is still an unraveling situation and could get worse as markets react. Stock markets are likely to continue its sharp fall during the week as the raging coronavirus heightens uncertainty amidst the oil price war started by Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Why the crash: The crash started over the weekend after Russia refused to bow to OPEC’s pressure for a cut in crude oil output. OPEC believes that by cutting supplies, it will force prices to rise. This is a move that has been used in the past to support crude oil prices from falling below OPEC’s target price. However, Russia wasn’t having any of it.
The Russians believe that a higher oil price supports investment US-led shale oil production further eroding any gains they may have obtained by a cut in supplies. The Americans have risen to the top of oil producers in the world since they started producing oil through shale oil in 2013. The US was a major destination of Nigeria’s bonny light crude but has since seen its demand from Africa’s largest economy drop to nearly zero.
The Russians, backed by their oil producers, believe a price war is the only solution to curtailing the rise and spread of Shale oil. They are also not happy with the increasing reliance on sanctions by the Trump-led administration to move against countries like Russia and China.
The spread of the Coronavirus, which has also negatively affected supply chain and manufacturing in China and Europe, has cut demand for oil around the world.
What this means: This is a very dire situation for Nigeria. With crude oil prices crashing and financial markets nose-diving, demand for Nigeria’s oil will wane while future deals will close at a price much lower than Nigeria’s crude oil benchmark.
There are also fears from some circles that the prices could fall below $30 a psychological floor thought to be a trigger from a devaluation. Nigeria’s CBN has kept the exchange rate at the Investor & Exporter window at M360/$1 since 2017 when it last devalued.
Be Smart: Investors have exited the stock market in droves, fearing a global contagion could cause a flight to safety from foreign portfolio investors and trigger even more sell-offs. History also suggests now might be the time to rebalance portfolios and possibly hold a basket of currencies. It may also be wise to front-load costs and investments while major investment decisions and deals may have to be reviewed especially if it is linked to the exchange rate.
Cost of Ivermectin soars after research suggest 75% chance of cutting Covid-19 deaths
Ivermectin prices have risen after Research published by the International Ivermectin Project Team shows drug can reduce Covid-19 deaths
As Azuka laid down in bed feverish, he had resigned to his fate believing he was not going to make it to the next day.
Just 3 days into the new year and all the fun he had, attending weddings and burial ceremonies in the east all seemed like a big mistake. He must have caught covid-19 at one of those events, he thought.
Since attending the last event, he fell sick and has been exhibiting the symptoms of Covid-19 and just waiting to die until someone recommended Ivermectin, a little known drug as a potential medicine that could help save his life.
A few days later he recovered and spread the news to friends and family – he believes Ivermectin cured him.
The rush to purchase Ivermectin in Lagos has increased of late after stories similar to that of Azuka (not his real name) spread. As Nigeria’s caseloads rise past 120k cases, some Nigerians are increasingly worried about contracting Covid-19, rushing to pharmacies to purchase a drug that they all believe is the most portent to fight Covid-19.
What is Ivermectin?
According to the World Health Organisation, Ivermectin was originally produced in the 1980s as a veterinary drug used largely for nematode control in cattle, horses, pigs, and dogs and became the standard for control of the ectoparasitic disease, scabies. It soon became the world’s most profitable veterinary drug.
Since then, Ivermectin has been used on humans for controlling strongyloidiasis, a human pathogenic parasitic roundworm causing the disease strongyloidiasis. According to medical sources, it is also known in the US as threadworm, UK, and Australia as pinworms.
In Nigeria, it has been used to treat worms, according to a pharmacist who spoke to Nairametrics.
“Originally it’s a worm expeller (Antihelminthic) used in the elimination of parasitic worms from the body. They use it in combination with doxycycline. They also use Vitamin C in combination with Axrthromycin.”
However, more recently, the drug is now being used for the treatment of Covid-19 pushing demands for the drug high across pharmacies in Lagos. A Nairametrics survey suggests the drug cost as high as N100,000.
Another pharmacist who craved anonymity explains.
“It was one of the available free drugs dispensed to patients at clinics in Nigeria – for eliminating different types of worms from the body. People usually don’t buy it from pharmacies because of the low price, thinking it’s not good quality tabled for expelling worms. It was not expensive and almost cost next to nothing, but now it sells for as high as N200 per tablet”
At N200 per tablet, a pack of 500 tablets could go for as high as N100,000. From all indications, the prices are unstable and could be purchased from as little as N20,000 per pack of 500 tablets to as high as N100,000. It all depends on demand and supply and who is under pressure to get a “cure”.
Is the drug credible?
Several social media posts and videos allude to the efficacy of the drug in “preventing and curing” Covid-19 but this is yet to be certified by the WHO.
The drug however came into the limelight after a Financial Times article claimed the drug had a chance of cutting covid-19 deaths by up to 75%.
The article was based on research published by the International Ivermectin Project Team led by the University of Liverpool lecturer Andrew Hill. A Nigerian Olufemi Emmanual Babalola, from Bingham University/Lagos University, Nigeria is also part of the group.
Here is an excerpt of the result of the research conducted by the group
“Ivermectin was associated with reduced inflammatory markers (C-Reactive Protein, d-dimer, and ferritin) and faster viral clearance by PCR. Viral clearance was treatment dose- and duration-dependent. Ivermectin showed significantly shorter duration of hospitalization compared to control. In six RCTs of moderate or severe infection, there was a 75% reduction in mortality (Relative Risk=0.25 [95%CI 0.12- 0.52]; p=0.0002); 14/650 (2.1%) deaths on ivermectin; 57/597 (9.5%) deaths in controls) with favorable clinical recovery and reduced hospitalization. “
Currently, the only other drug with the same level of worldwide unofficial approval for treatment of Covid-19 is Remdesivir, after it also showed an effect on improving recovery rate for Covid-19 patients.
The choice between waiting for a vaccine or self-medication
More recently, the search for cures for Covid-19 has been overshadowed by vaccine breakthroughs across the world. For most governments, preventing covid-19 is better than curing it which is why more effort is geared towards vaccine distributions and other preventive measures such as insisting on facemasks and introducing new lockdowns.
But for developing economies like Nigeria, where self-medication is prevalent, drugs like Ivermectin are easier to purchase over the counter as well as administer. Just like the demand for chloroquine, zinc, and vitamin C soared in the first wave of Covid-19, demand for Ivermectin is rising along with its price.
Fortunately, Ivermectin is backed by research even though the researchers expressed caution as more trials need to be conducted.
“Despite the encouraging trend this existing data base demonstrates, it is not yet a sufficiently robust evidence base to justify the use or regulatory approval of ivermectin. However, the current paucity of high-quality evidence only highlights the clear need for additional, higher-quality and larger-scale clinical trials, warranted to investigate the use of ivermectin further.
“The maximum effective dose of ivermectin needs to be clarified and new clinical trials should use a consistent multi-day dosing regime, with at least 0.4mg/kg/day. The appropriate dose and schedule of ivermectin still requires evaluation and the current randomized clinical trials of ivermectin need to be continued until ready for rigorous review by regulatory agencies.” International Ivermectin Project Team
Asides Ivermectin, Nigerians have also resorted to traditional medicine such as a beverage of lemongrass, dogonyaro leaves, garlic, ginger, and bitter kola to prevent and cure Covid-19, despite orthodox vaccines proven to be effective.
Perhaps it is because no one is sure when the vaccine will get to Nigeria after it was initially meant to arrive in January and since pushed to February 2021. And even if it does arrive in Nigeria, most people do not believe it will get to ordinary Nigerians on time especially when they cite the way the Covid-19 palliatives was handled.
For now, the need for self-reliance is driving people towards any drug they believe can cure covid-19.
Veteran talk-show host, Larry King dies at 87
Legendary longtime CNN talk show host, Larry King is dead.
Larry King, the multiple award-winning TV and radio host has died at the age of 87.
King who had a long-running show on CNN, Larry King Live was a household name for his many interviews with political leaders, celebrities and newsmakers.
King’s death was announced on his official Twitter handle stating that he passed on Saturday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, USA.
The statement read in part:
“With profound sadness, Ora Media announces the death of our co-founder, host and friend Larry King, who passed away this morning at age 87 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
“For 63 years and across the platforms of radio, television and digital media, Larry’s many thousands of interviews, awards, and global acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster.”
— Larry King (@kingsthings) January 23, 2021
The statement did not however, reveal the cause of death, but sources say King was hospitalised for COVID-19 in early January.
Since the news broke, friends, colleagues and admirers have taken to different social networks to express their sadness and condole with the family of the celebrated broadcaster.
What you should know about Larry King
- King rose to fame in the 1970s with his radio programme The Larry King Show, on the commercial network Mutual Broadcasting System.
- He hosted the Larry King Live on CNN for 25 years, between 1985 and 2010, carrying out more than 30,000 interviews, including every sitting president from Gerald Ford to Barack Obama.
- King also wrote a column for the USA Today newspaper for over 20 years.
- After leaving CNN, King hosted another programme, Larry King Now, broadcast on Hulu and RT, Russia’s state-controlled international broadcaster.
Niger Insurance Plc gets shareholders nod to restructure business
Niger Insurance Plc has announced plans to restructure its insurance business into distinct but mutually dependent business entities.
Niger Insurance Plc has obtained shareholders’ approval to restructure its insurance business into general, life and business insurance, with each segment to be structured as a separate legal entity.
This is part of the resolutions passed at the 50th Annual General Meeting of Niger Insurance Plc., held on 20th of January, 2021 at Peninsula Hotel in Lekki, Lagos.
The decision to restructure the company is in a bid to make it more efficient and profitable to stakeholders, especially as efforts are geared towards overturning a loss of about 1,1723.2% Year-on-Year, earlier made by the company in its last reported financial statement, Q2, 2020, as reported by Nairametrics.
Other key decisions reached at the 50th AGM include;
- The re-appointment of Mr Ebi Enaholo and Mrs. Olufemi Owopetu as Directors of the company.
- Acceptance of the presented financial statement for the year ended December 31, 2019 and the report of the audit committee, directors and auditors.
- Directors were authorized to fix the remuneration of the auditors.
- Directors were authorized to appoint external auditors to replace retiring auditors of the company.
- The appointment of four individuals as members of the audit committee.
- A decision to restructure the company’s business capital was also reached.
In case you missed it: The shareholders of Niger Insurance Plc in the 49th Annual General Meeting approved the decision by the company’s board to raise additional capital to the tune of N15 billion, in a bid to meet the revised recapitalization targets for general and life insurance companies.
What you should know: The House of Representatives had in December 2020 directed NAICOM to suspend the mandatory deadline for the first phase of 50%-60% of the minimum paid-up share capital for insurance and reinsurance firms.