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Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine appears effective against key mutation – Study reveals

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech’s vaccine may offer some protection against the new variants of coronavirus.

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Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine appears effective against key mutation - Study reveals

The vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE may offer some protection against a mutation in the new variants of coronavirus that have emerged in the UK and elsewhere.

This is according to a recent study by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch and assisted by Pfizer/BioNTech.

READ: Covid-19: First world nations oppose waiving intellectual rights for vaccine development

The research comes as Covid-19 is spreading globally at record daily levels, likely accelerated by the new strains, and as countries begin to roll out their vaccines.

The new variants, which has been identified across several countries, are thought to be 57% to 70% more transmissible than earlier strains of the virus.

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READ: Moderna vaccine certified to protect monkeys against Coronavirus during study

The result indicates the vaccine is likely to generate a protective immune response to new coronavirus variants carrying the so-called N501Y mutation in the virus’s spike protein.

The study has not been peer-reviewed and was only released ahead of publication and peer review.

Executives at BioNTech – as well as from Moderna Inc., the developer of a rival mRNA shot had earlier claimed their vaccines will protect against the new strains.

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READ: PZ Cussons relaunches soap brand in desperate bid to re-capture market

The result of the study by the University of Texas is one of the first to support those claims. The research examined the response to the mutant viruses in blood sera taken from 20 people vaccinated with the companies’ mRNA vaccine.

The researchers noted that the study didn’t cover other mutations in the spike protein. Yet, the findings were consistent with the response to a panel of 15 so-called pseudoviruses bearing spikes with other mutations found in circulating SARS-CoV-2 strains.

READ: AstraZeneca set to buy Alexion for $39 billion

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What they are saying

Phil Dormitzer, one of Pfizer’s top viral vaccine scientists, stated that:

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  • “We’ve now tested 16 different mutations, and none of them have really had any significant impact. That’s the good news. That doesn’t mean that the 17th won’t.”

READ: Covid-19: UK to approve Pfizer, BioTNech vaccine, to start immunization December 7

Simon Clarke, an associate Professor in Cellular Microbiology at the University of Reading, said that:

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  • “While both variants had some new features in common, one has a ‘number additional mutations’ that included more extensive alterations to the spike protein.”

What you should know

  • The researchers plan to run similar tests to see if the vaccine is effective against other mutations found in the UK and South African variants and hope to have more data within weeks.
  • Scientists have suggested the changes could be made to Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Inc vaccines to address new mutations of a virus in as little as six weeks.

Adeyemi holds a PhD in Accounting Sciences. He has worked in the Educational Sector and as an Independent Consultant.

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Coronavirus

Governor Sanwo-Olu says 24,000 students yet to resume in public schools

24,000 students in public schools are yet to return back after the reopening of schools, according to Governor Sanwo-Olu.

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The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has revealed that about 24,000 students in public schools are yet to come back after the reopening of schools following last year’s lockdown necessitated by the first wave of Covid-19 across the country.

This is as the governor said that resumption of school activities Monday, January 20, 2021, was a difficult decision to make in light of the second wave of Covid-19.

This disclosure was made by the governor while peaking during a press conference on Covid-19 update at the Lagos House, Ikeja on Tuesday.

Sanwo-Olu assured that it was the best decision for the children’s safety and long-term development, especially the most vulnerable ones.

What the Lagos State Governor is saying

Sanwo-Olu in his statement said, “Last year after the first lockdown and kids have to come back to school, we are still looking for about 24,000 of them that have not come back to school. So, there is a challenge if you keep them out for that long and their parents or guardians now turn them to other things instead of ensuring that they have time to come back for learning even if it is twice or thrice a week.

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“At least they have been registered since the beginning of a session and they can be monitored. If not, they will just be roaming the streets and become endangered. We have seen incidents of child abuse and all unprintable things that are being done to these children. So, we believe to a large extent that schools sometimes happen to be the safe haven for them. We have done the roster in which we ensure they keep social distance and we are monitoring,” he said.

What you should know

  • It can be recalled that public and private schools below the tertiary level in Lagos State, On Monday, January 18, 2021, reopened for academic activities despite opposition from some stakeholders due to the second wave of coronavirus pandemic in the state.
  • Following the surge in the number of infections in the state, which is the epicentre of the disease in the country, there were complaints about the state of preparedness of the schools, especially the public ones, in adhering to the strict Covid-19 protocols and guidelines.

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Only 68.8% of Nigerians believe Covid-19 is real – SBM Intel

The survey revealed that 68.8% of Nigerians believe Corona is real, 14.4% are not sure while 16.7% don’t believe it’s real.

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As the country and indeed, the rest of the world continues to be ravaged by the pandemic, only 68.8% of Nigerians believe Covid-19 is real. While 39.9% of Nigerians say they will take the vaccine, 63.3% are opposed to another lockdown.

These and more details were disclosed by SBM Intel, a geopolitical research and strategic communications consulting firm in its recent Covid-19 report titled, ” Covid in Nigeria: The Second Wave”.

“The age demographics of the correspondents for the survey were chosen across a broad age category., “The majority of the respondents were between 28-40 years (36.7%) followed by those between 18-27 years (24.0%), then 41-55 years (22.2%) which represents the active (working) population. 9.5% of the respondents were older than 55 years, and a smaller percentage, 7.7% were younger than 18 years,” the report revealed.

READ: Combined Vaccine Manufacturing capacity to hit 6.8 billion doses in 2021

If Corona is real…

  • The survey revealed that 68.8% of Nigerians believe Corona is real, 14.4% are not sure while 16.7% don’t believe it’s real.
  • Ekiti, Enugu, Kogi, Nasarawa, and Sokoto states had less than 50% of their respondents stating that the virus is real. These states have relatively low official death rates, Ekiti (7), Enugu (21), Kogi (2), Nasarawa (13) and Sokoto (20) compared to states with high death rates as Lagos (250), the FCT (106) and Edo (117).

An interviewee said: “The virus is real, but does not believe that it is present in Nigeria because people are not dying and they are not observing most of the precautions.”

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  • The report disclosed that most people of all age categories don’t deny the existence of a virus, however, people who are older than 55 years have the highest percentage of respondents who are unsure of the existence of coronavirus, citing reduced social interactions and smaller circles which keeps them away from contact with infected persons.

READ: Covid-19 vaccine: Kano, Lagos is priority as FG announces distribution plan

If people are taking the right steps to prevent the virus

Despite the fact that over 68% of the respondents believe that the virus is real, 59.5% of the respondents representing a majority of the respondents do not think that people are taking the right measures to prevent COVID-19.

  • “More interestingly, in some public institutions like banks and eateries where private security personnel enforces compliance with mask-wearing and hand sanitizing, people tend to comply just because such enforcement serves as an entry ticket. Researchers observed that once many people got into such premises, they took off their masks and started to flout other precautionary measures.

READ: African Union secures 270 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from drugmakers

Covid-19 vaccinations 

  • “Only 39.9% of the respondents said they will take the vaccine. An almost equal proportion of respondents (35.9 %) said they will not take the vaccine which the government announced is to arrive in the country at the end of January, and 24.1% are unsure of their position at the moment.
  • Reasons for not wanting to receive the vaccine include mistrust with the government and religious beliefs.
  • “Some respondents held that it is a religious war to contaminate the children of God with evil substances. Some believe that the vaccines are a tool to depopulate Nigeria, while others expressed concern about the effectiveness ratio and the side-effects that the vaccine might have,” SBM said.

READ: Covid-19: South Africa secures 20 million vaccines

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In case of another lockdown

  • 63.3% of Nigerians are opposed to another lockdown. The report cited the number is much lower than the past report which revealed 90.24% were opposed to the idea of another lockdown.
  • 15.1% are on the fence on this issue and only 21.6% of the respondents would support another lockdown.
  • Opposition to lockdowns was linked to economic and security impacts witnessed during the previous lockdown as the economy contracted to lead to unemployment and increased hardship for Nigerians.

READ: N5billion bailout fund underway for the Aviation sector – Minister

What you should know 

  • Nairametrics reported that the Federal Government said that Nigeria is not contemplating another lockdown and urged Nigerians to ignore social media posts rumouring of the possibility of another lockdown.
  • President Muhammadu Buhari already disclosed in October 2020 that the Nigerian economy is too fragile to go into another lockdown.
  • 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.

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Coronavirus

COVID-19: FG to acquire vaccines that need less cooling

The FG has stated that it is in talks with Russia and India to procure vaccines that are less dependent on cooling facilities.

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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 Nigerian Government says it doesn’t plan to over-invest in Covid-19 vaccines that require extra cold storage and that it will prioritize vaccines that don’t require much cooling.

This was disclosed by Faisal Shuaib, National Primary Health Care Development Agency Chief in a briefing with newsmen on Tuesday reported by Reuters.

READ: Africa to spend $9 billion on Covid-19 vaccine, access to supply is big problem

“Our plan now is not to over-invest on ultracold equipment for vaccines like that of Pfizer vaccines, but go for vaccines that need less cooling facilities.

“We are currently engaged in talks with Russia and India to get more vaccines,” he said.

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READ: COVID-19: FG to disburse N10 billion for local vaccine production

What you should know 

  • Nairametrics reported earlier this month that the Federal Government stated that the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) with its partners, is working to fix healthcare value chain roadblocks that may affect the fair distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.
  • The FG also disclosed through the NPHCDA its initial distribution plan for vaccines with the highest share of vaccines going to Kano State 3,557; Lagos 3,131; Katsina 2,361; Kaduna 2,074; Bauchi 1,900; Oyo 1,848; Rivers 1,766; Jigawa 1,712; Niger 1,558; Ogun 1,473; Sokoto 1,468; Benue 1,423; Borno 1,416; Anambra 1,379; Zamfara 1,336; Delta 1,306.

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