The Chairman of the African Union and the President of South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has revealed that the continent is left with few options to procure Covid-19 vaccines as the outbreak of the disease worsens across many parts of Africa.
This statement was made while speaking during a news interview on Bloomberg regarding the recent development.
His statement is a reaction to the criticism, over the country’s vaccine strategy from health leaders, labour unions and opposition parties.
The South African leader made it clear that despite the fact that four vaccine trials are underway in the country, South Africa has only arranged to purchase enough shots for 10% of its population of 60 million people through the Covax initiative, which is designed to ensure equitable access to the vaccines.
He revealed that the shots purchased are likely to begin arriving in the second quarter. Some African countries have their own plans for vaccine procurement, most do not.
What you should know
- With over 1.09 million confirmed Covid-19 infections and 29,175 deaths, South Africa is the worst-hit country on the African continent. This has made it imperative for the country to obtain vaccines for its citizens.
- It is important to note that African countries would’ve been in a better position to gain early access to AstraZeneca’s and other vaccines, if they had started talks directly with producers complemented with early efforts to secure access to the vaccines.
- However, Ramaphosa’s statement is in reaction to the initial statement that Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE have offered to supply Africa with 50 million Covid-19 vaccines for health workers between March and the end of this year.
- He also revealed that Moderna Inc. has no supplies for Africa, while AstraZeneca Plc has no shots for the continent in 2021 and has directed the African Union to negotiate with the Serum Institute of India Ltd, which is making the vaccine on behalf of AstraZeneca.
What they are saying
President Cyril Ramaphosa in his statement said:
- “We are working hard in South Africa and on the continent to protect our people against Covid-19. South Africa is posting record numbers of infections and deaths and neighbouring Zimbabwe is entering a strict 30-day lockdown. The South African economy likely contracted the most in nine decades last year, according to official estimates.”
In a recent statement, a Pfizer representative based in the U.K. said the company remained “firmly committed to equitable access for Covid-19 vaccines.”
The representative of Pfizer who declined to give further details, confirmed that the company is in talks with the African Union, he said:
- “We have allocated doses for supply to low- and lower-middle-income countries at a not-for-profit price and we are actively working with governments all around the world. Discussions are taking place with Johnson & Johnson, which is conducting a trial in South Africa and plans to make 300 million doses a year at a factory in the country owned by Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd., when the shot is approved.”
No talks of a second lockdown – FG
FG has stated that contrary to what is being rumoured on social media, there is no consideration of a second lockdown.
The Federal Government has said that Nigeria is not contemplating another lockdown and urged Nigerians to ignore social media posts circulating the possibility of another lockdown.
This was disclosed by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in a series of social media posts on Thursday evening.
- “The attention of the Presidential Task Force on COVID -19 has been drawn to some mis-information circulating on the social media to the effect that the Federal Government is contemplating another lockdown this weekend.
- ” The Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 wishes to state categorically that there is no such consideration at any of its meetings nor has any recommendation been made to this effect to the President.”
The PTF said such announcements are unpatriotic and could cause unnecessary panic and anxiety among the populace and urged Nigerians to disregard the misinformation and join hands with the FG to contain the spread of the virus in the country by adhering to Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPI’s) as recommended by the PTF.
What you should know
- Recall Nairametrics reported that President Muhammadu Buhari disclosed in October 2020 that the Nigerian economy is too fragile to go into another lockdown, as the second wave of coronavirus has already forced some European countries – Germany and France, to enter another phase of lockdown.
- Nigeria surpassed the 100,000 mark for COVID-19 cases on Sunday 10th January 2021, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
COVID-19 Update in Nigeria
On the 14th of January 2021, 1,479 new confirmed cases and 23 deaths were recorded in Nigeria
The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continues to record significant increases as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 105,478 confirmed cases.
On the 14th of January 2021, 1,479 new confirmed cases and 23 deaths were recorded in Nigeria.
To date, 105,478 cases have been confirmed, 83,830 cases have been discharged and 1,405 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 1.13 million tests have been carried out as of January 14th, 2021 compared to 1.03 million tests a day earlier.
COVID-19 Case Updates- 14th January 2021,
- Total Number of Cases – 105,478
- Total Number Discharged – 83,830
- Total Deaths – 1,405
- Total Tests Carried out – 1,135,535
According to the NCDC, the 1,479 new cases were reported from 25 states- Lagos (697), FCT (201), Nasarawa (80), Plateau (74), Rivers (62), Edo (46), Adamawa (43), Osun (39), Akwa Ibom (35), Delta (31), Anambra (27), Oyo (24), Kano (21), Abia (19), Enugu (19), Ogun (18), Sokoto (12), Bauchi (7), Taraba (7), Ekiti (4), Gombe (4), Imo (4), Bayelsa (2), Jigawa (2), and Zamfara (1).
Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 38,549, followed by Abuja (14,139), Plateau (6,147), Kaduna (5,888), Oyo (4,570), Rivers (4,186), Edo (3,189), Ogun (2,745), Kano (2,512), Delta (2,062), Ondo (2,006), Katsina (1,692), Kwara (1,566), Enugu (1,525), Gombe (1,471), Nasarawa (1,233), Ebonyi (1,159), Osun (1,149), Abia (1,114), and Bauchi (1,107).
Borno State has recorded 844 cases, Imo (810), Benue (629), Sokoto (602), Bayelsa (588), Akwa Ibom (588), Adamawa (540), Niger (508), Anambra (460), Ekiti (450), Jigawa (423), Taraba (246), Kebbi (240), Yobe (207), Cross River (169), Zamfara (160), while Kogi state has recorded 5 cases only.
Lock Down and Curfew
In a move to combat the spread of the pandemic disease, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days, which took effect from 11 pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.
The movement restriction, which was extended by another two weeks period, has been partially put on hold with some businesses commencing operations from May 4. On April 27th, 2020, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari declared an overnight curfew from 8 pm to 6 am across the country, as part of new measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19. This comes along with the phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos, and Ogun States, which took effect from Saturday, 2nd May 2020, at 9 am.
On Monday, 29th June 2020 the federal government extended the second phase of the eased lockdown by 4 weeks and approved interstate movement outside curfew hours with effect from July 1, 2020. Also, on Monday 27th July 2020, the federal government extended the second phase of eased lockdown by an additional one week.
On Thursday, 6th August 2020 the federal government through the secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 announced the extension of the second phase of eased lockdown by another four (4) weeks.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State announced the closed down of the Eti-Osa Isolation Centre, with effect from Friday, 31st July 2020. He also mentioned that the Agidingbi Isolation Centre would also be closed and the patients relocated to a large capacity centre.
Due to the increased number of covid-19 cases in Nigeria, the Nigerian government ordered the reopening of Isolation and treatment centres in the country on Thursday, 10th December 2020.
African Union secures 270 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from drugmakers
The AU has secured 270 million Covid-19 vaccine doses for the continent from drug manufacturers Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.
The African Union has secured 270 million Covid-19 vaccine doses for the continent from drug manufacturers to supplement the COVAX programme, a step towards the commencement of the complex task of vaccinating over 1.2 billion people with limited financial resources.
Drugmakers Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson will provide the vaccines, of which 50 million doses will be made available for the crucial period, between April and June 2021.
This disclosure was made through a statement by the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also the Chairman of the African Union, on Wednesday.
Ramaphosa said that arrangements had been made with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) to provide support to member states who want to have access to the vaccines.
Upon receipt of firm orders from member states, Afreximbank is expected to provide advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to $2 billion to the manufacturers.
Going further, the South African President said, “There is also close collaboration between the AU team and the World Bank to ensure that member states are able to access about $5 billion either to buy more vaccines or pay for the delivery of vaccines committed on their behalf by Afreximbank.
“These endeavours aim to supplement the COVAX efforts, and to ensure that as many dosages of the vaccine as possible become available throughout Africa as soon as possible.”
He pointed out that although the World Health Organization co-led COVAX initiative was very crucial to Africa’s response to the pandemic, the Africa Union was concerned that the COVAX volumes to be released between February and June would be inadequate and may not go beyond catering for the needs of frontline health care workers.
What you should know
- While several wealthy economies around the world pre-ordered vaccines ahead of regulatory approval and have now started rollouts, concerns have been raised that Africa, which has recorded at least 3.1 million infections and about 74,600 deaths over the course of the pandemic, would be left behind.
- This happens to be a fraction of the global figure of more than 91 million cases, although it is believed that some of the figures might be distorted due to less reliable reporting methods.