Russia has announced that it was going to start mass vaccination of the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine this month before the completion of clinical testing. This is just as it waved off concerns by the international community and some scientists about the safety of the vaccine.
These views were made known by the Russian Health Minister, Mikhail Murashko, on Wednesday, August 12, 2020, during a press briefing.
The Health Minister in his statement said, ‘’Western colleagues, who can sense the competitive advantage of the Russian drug, are trying to express some opinions that are completely unjustified in our view. This vaccine is a platform that is already well-known and studied,” he said, adding that other countries have developed antidotes under accelerated testing programs.’’
Murashko also said that the authorities plan to start inoculating medical workers and other risk groups within 2 weeks on a voluntary basis while pointing out that the vaccine will be made available to the general public from October.
Nairametrics had reported yesterday that the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, in a televised meeting, announced that Russia has registered the first COVID-19 vaccine in what they see as a propaganda coup amid the global race for the development of a vaccine against the coronavirus disease.
This announcement has raised a lot of international concerns with the German Health Minister, Jens Spahn, saying on Wednesday, that Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine has not been sufficiently tested, adding that the aim was to have a safe product rather than just being first to start vaccinating people.
He said in a radio chat that it’s not about being first but rather about having an effective, tested and safe vaccine.
Experts have expressed their concerns over Russia’s decision to grant approval before the final trials of the vaccine have been completed.
He said that as much as he will be pleased to have a good vaccine for the virus, he pointed out that the Russians are not disclosing much about this vaccine.
This vaccine which is developed by Gamaleya Institute in collaboration with the Defence Ministry and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), is said to be undergoing Phase 3 trials, which is the final stage.
However, a World Health Organization (WHO) database still lists the vaccine as still only in Phase 1 trial, which is the earliest stage.
The RDIF said that it can produce over 500 million doses of the new vaccine in a year in 5 countries, just as it disclosed that a minimum of 20 countries are currently interested in having access to these vaccines.
The WHO had earlier revealed that it is currently discussing with Russia and pointed out that in granting prequalification of the vaccine, a detailed review of data from clinical trials will be required.
COVID-19: FG to launch Rapid Response Register for urban poor
The FG has moved to inaugurate an emergency intervention database for the poor residing in urban centres and affected by the pandemic.
The Federal Government has announced that it would inaugurate a COVID-19 Rapid Response Register (RRR), which would be a health emergency response for the poor living in urban centers that have been affected by the pandemic.
This was disclosed by Mr. Joe Abuku, Communications Manager, National Social Safety Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO), on Sunday in Abuja.
Mr. Abuku said the register would identify Nigerians that have been made poorer due to the pandemic, targeting mainly Traders and SME Owners.
He added that the scheme was designed by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, through NASSCO, in partnership with the World Bank, and will be inaugurated by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday, at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.
What Joe Abuku is saying
- “This register is being built by NASSCO as an expansion of the existing National Social Safety Nets Project (NASSP). It targets small business owners, street vendors, petty traders, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and service providers.
- “Others are low wage employed individuals and families, including daily wage-based laborers, urban poor and destitute (persons with disabilities), and vulnerable families in slum areas, affected by the pandemic.
- “The category of Nigerians who will be in this register is typically the urban/semi-urban poor engaged in the informal sectors of the economy, who lost their source of livelihood due to the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and jobs. The Federal Government plans to extend cash transfers to households in this register for a period of 12 months.”
He also stated that NASSCO would use geographical satellite sensing to locale the wards where the urban poor live, as the targeting of the poor would be done via cell phone Short Messaging Service (SMS) technology that allows residents of targeted communities register to be assisted by following simple steps using USSD codes.
The SMS approach would be integrated through data gathered by the National Living Standard Survey Assessments and would be complemented by existing databases of Non-Governmental Organisations and local self-help-support groups.
- “Mobile phone numbers of those deemed eligible for assistance will be linked to digitized bank accounts to receive cash support, under an expanded cash transfer program of the Federal Government. These cash payments are designed to boost consumption for these households, build their resilience, and in some cases, inject fresh capital into small businesses.”
What you should know
- Nairametrics reported last year that the World Bank said the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic could make an additional 5 million Nigerians poor.
- The Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report 2020 by the World Bank Group indicate that between 88 million and 115 million people could fall back into extreme poverty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- This is in addition to an increase between 23 million and 35 million in 2021, potentially bringing the total number of new people living in extreme poverty to between 110 million and 150 million.
Covid-19: Nigeria needs serious controls not a second lockdown – House Committee on Education
A member of the lower legislative house has advised the government to focus on serious control measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Professor Julius Ihonvbere, Chairman, House Committee on Basic Education & Services, said the Federal and States governments should not impose a lockdown, but rather focus on serious control measures to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
He disclosed this during an interview with Channels TV on Sunday evening.
- “I do not think we need a national lockdown now, I think what we need now is the first instance is serious controls. Let me say that the Governor of Lagos is the ‘poster man’ for the fight against covid-19. If we see you outside without a mask, we will arrest you and charge you to court, that is the kind of courage we need.”
He cited serious controls like buying hand sanitizers and washing materials to schools and urban areas in Lagos as part of the controls that should be commended.
- “The issue is not a lockdown. If you lock people down, and you are not doing the right thing inside the lockdown, the cases will still increase. They (masses) will break it and will challenge it as they did during the first lockdown. So, the real issue is to bring out the policies and implement them.
- “The Federal Ministry as a supervisor, yes states have the autonomy, but we give the state’s money from UBEC every year, we give them billions, what are they doing with it?
He urged that the FG should investigate what States use their Universal Basic Education Funds for, as Nigeria is in a time for “retooling and repurpose” and UBEC funding should be utilized in the fight against Covid-19.
What you should know
- Nairametrics reported last week that the Federal Government said Nigeria is not contemplating another lockdown and urged Nigerians to ignore social media posts circulating the possibility of another lockdown.
Covid-19: Ghana’s healthcare could be overwhelmed – President Akufo-Addo
Ghanaian President has warned that he might impose a partial lockdown as healthcare facilities are overwhelmed by growing cases of coronavirus.
The Ghanaian Government has warned that Ghana’s second wave of the coronavirus pandemic is rising fast and could overwhelm its already extended Covid-19 treatment centres.
This was disclosed by President Nana Akufo-Addo on Sunday in a Reuters report.
The Ghanaian President warned that he might impose a partial lockdown in the coming weeks as cases might reach peak levels.
Active cases in Ghana climbed to 1,924 from about 900 since the 5th of January. He also confirmed that the new variant was present in the country, as cases were imported from people entering Ghana.
The President said,
- “Our COVID-19 treatment centres have gone from having zero patients to now being full because of the upsurge in infections. At this current rate, our healthcare infrastructure will be overwhelmed.
- “Work is ongoing to determine the presence and extent of spread of the new variants in the general population.”
What you should know
- Nairametrics reported that the Federal Government also alerted Nigerians that hospitals across the country were running out of facilities to handle more serious cases of coronavirus infections, as the virus is spreading fast with mild symptoms in some victims and severe illnesses and death in others.