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US supports Nigeria with $32.8 million for COVID-19, over $5billion on health in 20 years

US mission in Nigeria says that the country’s support to Nigeria in the global response to covid-19 now stands at $32.8 million . 

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As Nigeria struggles to cope with the coronavirus pandemic that has severely impacted on the economy, the nation has been seeking for technical and financial assistance from international multilateral organizations, financially stable countries, and corporate entities among others.

This is because of the financial crisis faced by the country, which is worsened by the crude oil price crash as it contributes about 90% of the nation’s foreign exchange earnings.

The United States, which is the country is the hardest-hit country by the coronavirus pandemic in terms of casualty figure has been collaborating and financially supporting Nigeria in the fight against the virus.

The US mission in Nigeria says that the country’s support to Nigeria in the global response to COVID-19 now stands at $32.8 million with more in the pipeline.

(READ MORE: Trump speaks with President Buhari on telephone over COVID-19)

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This was disclosed by the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard, during an interview with channels television.

Nigeria, Nigerian economy, Recession, Oil price plunge, The Nigerian economy set to benefit from the new National Broadband Plan, US spends over $5b in health assistance to Nigeria in 20 years, gives $32.8m for covid-19

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The US Ambassador said, ‘’Yes our 2 presidents spoke together, you will recall that President Buhari was the first African President that President Trump met and so I’m sure they were pleased to renew that contact’’.

READ ALSO: Aviation: Aviation sector grasps for stimulus in worst ever crisis

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Ambassador Beth Leonard pointed out what the United State government has been doing to help Nigeria during this crisis.

She said, ‘’The US government spent $237 million specifically on COVID-19 and here in Nigeria we have spent up to $32.8 million and this is actually almost an equivalent volume of money that is still in the pipeline as we prioritize and figure out where we can have positive effect’’.

The US envoy to Nigeria said that Trump and Buhari discussed how the 2 countries have each reacted to the pandemic and the equipment needs of the countries. She pointed out that she was informed by her colleagues in Washington, that they are working on the logistics of how to help Nigeria with its equipment needs which could be in the coming days. 

(READ MORE: Nigeria’s energy crisis deepens as country runs out of storage for LNG)

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She said they are working with United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and research institutes are partnering with Nigeria in the provision of some of this equipment as no country can do it alone.

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According to her, the United States has for a long time been international leaders in health assistance as they have incredible relationships with other countries and their health systems.

Going further she said, ‘’You know in the last 20 years, the US assistance to Nigeria is a little over $8 billion, more than $5 billion of that was in the health. So international health assistance is something that we do and something that you will keep on doing when you come to a historic pandemic like COVID-19.’’

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Chike Olisah is a graduate of accountancy with over 15 years working experience in the financial service sector. He has worked in research and marketing departments of three top commercial banks. Chike is a senior member of the Nairametrics Editorial Team. You may contact him via his email- [email protected]

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WHO warns Africa in danger of being left behind in Covid-19 vaccination

The WHO has warned that Africa is in danger of being left behind in Covid-19 vaccination.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that Africa is in danger of being left behind in Covid-19 vaccination as countries from other regions strike bilateral deals, thereby driving up prices.

This follows the development and approval of safe and effective vaccine less than a year after the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic, regarded as a stunning achievement.

This disclosure was made by the WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti while speaking during a virtual press conference which was facilitated by APO Group.

Dr Moeti was joined at the press briefing by the Managing Director, Country Programmes, Gavi, Thabani Maphosa and UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Mohamed Fall.

What the WHO’s Regional Director for Africa is saying

Dr Moeti stated that as of early this week, 40 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered in 50 mostly high-income countries with Guinea being the only low-income country on the continent to have provided doses to only 25 people so far.

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According to her, Seychelles is the only high-income country on the continent where a national Covid-19 vaccination campaign has started.

She said, “We first, not me first, is the only way to end the pandemic. Vaccine hoarding will only prolong the ordeal and delay Africa’s recovery. It is deeply unjust that the most vulnerable Africans are forced to wait for vaccines while lower-risk groups in rich countries are made safe.

“Health workers and vulnerable people in Africa need urgent access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.’’

What the Managing Director, Country Programmes, GAVI, is saying

Mr Thabani Maphosa, the Managing Director, Country Programmes at GAVI, a partner in the alliance, was quoted as saying delivery would begin soon.

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He said, “COVAX is on track to start delivering vaccine doses and begin ensuring global access to vaccines. This massive international undertaking has been made possible thanks to donations work towards dose-sharing deals and deals with manufacturers that have brought us to almost 2 billion doses secured. We look forward to rollout in the coming weeks.”

What you should know

  • COVAX facility is an international alliance which is backed by the WHO, Gavi, the vaccine alliance and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), to ensure equitable distribution of the Covid-19 vaccines among all countries regardless of income level.
  • The alliance has secured 2 billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine for Africa from 5 producers, with options of over 1 billion more doses.
  • COVAX has committed to vaccinating no fewer than 20% of the population in Africa by the end of 2021.
  • Priority will be given to health workers and other vulnerable groups, such as older persons and those with pre-existing health conditions.
  • An initial 30 million vaccine doses are expected to begin arriving in countries by March.
  • The United Nations in its report said that a maximum of 600 million doses will be disbursed, based on 2 doses per person.

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COVID-19: Evidence suggests that new variants could pose challenge for vaccines

The research findings show that the new COVID variants may likely not respond well to the vaccines.

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Recent research findings suggest that the new coronavirus variants would likely pose a big challenge for the vaccines, as revealed by studies by several medical researchers.

The new variant was first discovered in South Africa in October but has now been spread to more than a dozen countries all over the world.

According to the most recent findings, as reported by CNN, researchers took antibodies from six people who were hospitalized with Covid-19 before the new variant was discovered. They found to varying degrees, that the antibodies for all six of the survivors were unable to fully fight off the virus.

According to Alex Sigal, a virologist at the Africa Health Research Institute and the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, “I think the evidence is building that these mutations — and I think other mutations — will emerge across the globe — and are emerging already — that are escaping antibodies from previous infection. It’s concerning.”

According to Jesse Bloom, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, “When you see two groups independently arriving at same basic answer, that good — there’s more consonance that they are correct”

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What you should know

  • Sigal’s findings were very similar to those of a recent study by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa.
  • A research study has revealed that mutations in the new variant allowed them to evade some of the immunity induced by vaccination, but it was far from a complete escape.
  • One thing that is critically safe for everyone is to get vaccinated, while the researchers are working to confirm whether these variants are dangerous or not to contain with the vaccines.
  • According to Alex Sigal, “I would for sure get it if I could. My father-in-law had the opportunity to fly to Israel and get it, and I was shooing him out of the house because you can’t get it here in South Africa.”
  • In a research study done at Rockefeller University, from a sample of 20 people who had received either the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine, it was found that different mutations in the viruses did allow some escape from some types of antibodies, but the volunteers’ immune systems threw an army of different types of antibodies at the viruses.
  • According to the research conducted in South Africa, blood was drawn from 44 people who had Covid-19 but the antibodies of about half of the 44 people were powerless against the new variant, while the other half, their antibody responses were weakened, but not totally knocked out.

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Covid-19: Buhari approves N6.45 billion to set up 38 oxygen production plants

President Buhari has approved the sum of N6.45 billion for the set-up of 38 oxygen production plants across the country.

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Buhari sacks DG National Directorate of Employment, Nasiru Argungu

President Muhammadu Buhari has announced his approval of N6.45 billion for the set-up of 38 oxygen production plants across the country, in a bid to contain the second wave of Covid-19.

The President disclosed this in a statement on Thursday evening after the first National Economic Council meeting of the year presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, with State Governors, Federal Capital Territory Minister, Central Bank Governor, and other senior government officials in attendance.

READ: Covid-19: FG directs universities to suspend academic activities till further notice

“As part of efforts to contain the second wave of Covid-19, we’re setting up new oxygen production plants in 38 locations across Nigeria—to enhance the management of patients in need of oxygen.

“I have equally approved funding for the rehabilitation of oxygen plants in 5 hospitals,” Buhari said.

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The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed said the President said the fund’s release was necessitated by the rising cases of Covid-19 in the country with patients needing oxygen.

READ: Toyota suspends operations in China over Coronavirus outbreak 

What you should know 

  • Recall Nairametrics reported that the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, warned that the rising second wave of the pandemic in Lagos had seen the demand for oxygen rise 5 times from 70 six-liter cylinders per day to 350 six-liter cylinders at Yaba Mainland Hospital alone.
  • He added that the state government had the decentralized provision of oxygen and other services needed for Covid-19 patients, citing the provision of oxygen kiosks.

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