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Coronavirus

FG begins N20,000 relief fund disbursement per household in Abuja

The FG has started disbursing the N20,000 Condition Cash Transfer to poor households across the country,the disbursement is said to have started today.

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Debt, Fitch downgradesS&P downgrades Nigeria, Nigeria’s credit rating faces downgrade by Fitch, Oil price crash, Coronavirus: The trouble that lies ahead for Nigeria, Avoiding 2016: What Nigeria should do to fight the coming economic storm, Fitch downgrades, federal government (FG)

The Federal Government (FG) has started disbursing the N20,000 Condition Cash Transfer to poor households across the country. The disbursement is said to have started today at the Kwali Area Council in Abuja.

According to the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadia Umar-Farouk, the Federal Government would be giving out the sum of N20,000 to each person for the next four months as a way of cushioning the effect of the coronavirus pandemic.

The disbursement is part of the Federal Government’s efforts that is aimed at helping “vulnerable” Nigerians get through the lockdown directive given by President Muhammadu Buhari following the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Speaking on the strategy being used to locate and disburse the funds on Channels TV, Umar-Farouk said;

“We have directed immediate cash transfer to the poorest and most vulnerable households in the country. But for the COVID-19, the vulnerable groups have to expand, because we are aware that there are people who live on daily wage, so we are also going to look at those groups of people to see how we can get this food relief intervention to them in this period.” 

(READ MORE: COVID-19: Nigerians in diaspora have not asked to be evacuated – FG)

She further explained that President had said during his broadcast last week that the Conditional Cash Transfer should be given in advance of two months.

Meanwhile, Nigerians have taken to Twitter to react since the President made the announcement that funds would be disbursed to poor and vulnerable households.

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Nigerians have wondered what it means to be poor and vulnerable judging by the Government’s yardstick and why the areas where the disbursements would be taken place have not been disclosed.

While some asked if the Federal Government has a database for the poor, others believe the funds should be for every Nigerian and should be disbursed using their bank accounts and BVN numbers.

However, the Presidency announced recently that it has identified 10,695,360 individuals in 35 states across the country as the poorest and most vulnerable Nigerians, during this crisis of COVID19 pandemic.

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Chidinma holds a degree in Mass communication from Caleb University Lagos and a Masters in view in Public Relations. She strongly believes in self development which has made her volunteer with an NGO on girl child development. She loves writing, reading and travelling. You may contact her via - [email protected]

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            Business

            Vaccine IP waiver: What it means for Nigerian vaccine production

            The move to support a Covid IP waiver is important to reduce the global effect of the pandemic.

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            The US government announced last week that it would support a waiver of Intellectual Property Protections on Covid-19 vaccine development, in a bid to boost the fight against the pandemic and increase access to vaccines to millions globally.

            Ambassador Katherine Tai, the US Trade Rep said: “…administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for Covid-19 vaccines.

            We will actively participate in text-based negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to make this happen.”

            The move to support a Covid IP waiver also comes beneficial to countries such as China and India. WTO’s Nigerian head has also been calling for waivers.

            READ: Covid-19: FCT to end vaccination May 14

            Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had earlier warned about the dangers of “vaccine nationalism” which could affect the much-expected pandemic recovery, as well as decimate economic growth for all countries – rich and poor.

            She added that the WTO could contribute a lot to ending the pandemic by prioritizing and implementing solutions as to how the WTO could make vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics accessible in an equitable and affordable fashion to all countries, particularly to poor countries, citing dangers that the global economy may face through losing $9 trillion in potential output if poor countries were unable to get their populations vaccinated quickly. About half of this impact would be borne by rich countries.

            It does not come as a surprise that Okonjo-Iweala also stated that Nigeria should start looking at establishing the capacity for manufacturing vaccines locally.

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            “I’ve been in the vaccine business for last 5-6 years. You need 4-5 years to get a plant approved to produce vaccines. I’m advocating that Nigeria should start looking now at establishing capacity for manufacturing vaccines locally. This is not going to be the last pandemic,” she said in her last visit to Nigeria.

            READ: African Union signs deal for 400 million Johnson and Johnson single-shot vaccine

            FG’s response towards vaccine development

            The Nigerian government announced during the end of the first wave of Covid in 2020 that it would be setting up a vaccine production company in Nigeria to boost local COVID-19 vaccine production. Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, added that the Health ministry would sign a PPP-MoU with a pharmaceutical company in Nigeria to set up the new company.

            The FG also was not just doing the “talking” as earlier this year, the Ministry of Finance announced the sum of N10 billion for the production of vaccines in Nigeria, to fight the coronavirus.

            “Nigeria is exploring options for licensed production, in collaboration with recognised institutions. We are also exploring the option of local production of the vaccines in the country,” The health Minister said.

            READ: Covid-19: Nigeria records over 1 million vaccinations

            Therefore it’s a no brainer that a Covid IP waiver is important to reduce the pandemic, and the countries that would benefit the most are the ones most ready with the skill and manufacturing capacity, as nobody wants to be caught napping during the next global pandemic.

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            Prince Nwafuru, an international trade lawyer at Paul Usoro & Co says waiving the IPs is beneficial to ending the pandemic, and it would benefit Nigeria immensely if all plans are followed through.

            What the IP waiver means for Asian manufacturing nations like China and India. Will western drug manufacturers oppose the move?

            “There is no contending with necessity, and we should be very tender how we censure those that submit to it. ‘Tis one thing to be at liberty to do what we will, and another thing to be tied up to do what we must,” English author Roger L’Estrange said about necessity,” Nwafuru quoted.

            He added that the IP waiver proposed by the World Trade Organization (WTO) was driven by necessity and the need to address the scourge of the pandemic which had affected the global economy. Though the world’s top five pharmaceutical companies are in the USA and Europe, China and India still play huge roles in global supply chains in the industry.

            “Therefore, the cooperation of China and India will be key to the success of the negotiation. On whether the drug manufacturers will oppose the move, it is too early to tell. And a lot will depend on the terms of the negotiations and the political will of the nations involved. It is important to add that the focus of the waiver is to aid the poor and developing countries.

            The USA and Europe will ensure that other big drug manufacturing nations like China and India do not use the opportunity to the detriment of the West. India is currently battling its worst COVID 19 crisis in the world and the priority for such a country is to get all the help available at the moment. And you know that decisions at the WTO are reached by consensus. Therefore, the cooperation of the Member States is important at this critical point. Another area of concern is whether the waiver will negatively impact innovation. Some IP experts have also expressed concern in this regard. One of such IP experts I discussed with noted that the complexities involved in making vaccines mean that waiving IP rights won’t act as the magic wand,” he said.

            With Nigeria talking about building a vaccine manufacturing sector, would this be beneficial for us?

            “Of course yes,” he said.

            Though Nigeria has not been hit hard like other developing economies such as India and South Africa, there is still the urgent need to bring in more vaccines to cater to the country’s teeming population as we cannot afford to take chances and be visited by the kind of issue going on India.

            Since receiving the first batch of 3.9 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine in March this year, Nigeria has been battling to access more supplies to cater to its 200 million population. Even with the 84 million doses of vaccines expected from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, we are yet to cover 20% of the population. The waiver will definitely help Nigeria to develop local capacity and provide for our local needs, given the difficulty being experienced in accessing the vaccines abroad,” he added.

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            Can Nigeria use it as a form of manufactured exports for AfCFTA?

            He stated that Nigeria could tap into the opportunity provided by the waiver and incentives from the Federal Government to ramp up production that would serve not only the citizens but other nations on the continent.

            “The thing about the AfCFTA is that it seeks to make the whole of Africa one nation. However, it is too early to make projections on such possibilities until the waiver is concluded. In any case, we have to meet local needs first before talking of exporting to other nations. Charity, they say, begins at home,” he said.

            Bottomline

            The Vaccine IP waiver is an opportunity for Nigeria to achieve economic diversification and build a skilled value chain that will also address Nigeria’s youth unemployment problem. Nigeria can look at India’s pharmaceutical industry which announced exports for the FY-21 (Apr 2020 – Mar 2021) at $24.44 billion, a record growth of 18.07 %. Exports during FY 2020 were $20.58 billion with a growth rate of 7.57%.

            Nigeria will not be alone in this journey as Rwanda, South Africa and Senegal have also called for full vaccine manufacturing capacity in Africa. Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame, said last week that: “The only way to ensure vaccine equity is to produce more vaccines where they are needed … as Africa remains dependent on other regions for vaccines, we will always be at the back of the queue whenever there is scarcity.”

            One more factor to consider, for there to be competent vaccine development, Nigeria must begin to invest more in STEM-related courses at the nation’s tertiary institutions.

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            Coronavirus

            Covid-19: Ekiti state receives extra 40,000 doses

            NPHCDA data reveals that Ekiti State has used up 86% of its initial proportion so far.

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            Covid-19: AstraZeneca vaccine gets huge boost, produces immune response in elderly, Vaccine, COVID-19: Russia to roll out vaccine in September ahead of the West 

            The Ekiti State Government announced it has received an extra 40,000 AstraZeneca vaccines from the National Primary Health Care Development Agency. This comes as NPHCDA data reveals the state so far has issued 86% of its initial proportion.

            Dr Oyebanji Filani, Commissioner for Health and Human Services, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday in Ekiti, citing that the 52,960 doses sent to the state had mostly been utilised.

            NPHCDA data for the 9th of May 2021 revealed that 1,665,698 people had so far been vaccinated, which is 82.8% of its proportion.

            The commissioner added that the State is committed to vaccinating even more people and advised residents to get vaccinated in a  bid to reduce the spread of the virus in the state, stating that continuous compliance with social distance measures will also remain in place.

            In case you missed it

            The FCT Primary Health Care Board (FPHCB) announced it would end the first round of Covid-19 vaccination on the 14th of May 2021.

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