American biotechnology firm, Moderna Inc. on Monday announced that it is launching a trial of a new Covid-19 vaccine as it warned that its current shot was less effective in tackling the strain that emerged in South Africa.
Moderna said it is accelerating work on a covid booster shot to guard against the recently discovered variant in South Africa.
According to the company, Laboratory tests show Moderna’s Covid-19 jab still works against the variant named 501Y.V2, which emerged in South Africa, and B.1.1.7, which was first discovered in the UK.
It however warned that the neutralising antibody response to 501Y.V2 was sixfold lower compared to the original variant, raising concerns that immunity to it may wane significantly, particularly in older people.
“Out of an abundance of caution and leveraging the flexibility of our mRNA platform, we are advancing an emerging variant booster candidate against the variant first identified in the Republic of South Africa into the clinic to determine if it will be more effective to boost titers against this and potentially future variants,” Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said.
What you should know
- On Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House health advisor said that new data had shown that the Covid-19 vaccines currently on the market may not be as effective against new and more contagious strains of the coronavirus.
- Also, a team of researchers working with South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases stated that the 501Y.V2 shows substantial or complete escape from neutralising antibodies in COVID-19 convalescent plasma.
- According to reports by South African researchers, the 501Y.V2 variant is 50% more infectious than previous ones. It has already spread to at least 20 countries since being reported by the World Health Organisation in late December.
- Meanwhile, the total confirmed cases of the virus is currently at 99.85 million with over 2 million deaths worldwide.
Peter Obi urges FG to beg manufacturers, rich nations for COVID-19 vaccines
Obi urged the FG to consider appealing to rich nations, drug manufacturers for vaccines instead of spending billions of nairas to procure them.
Former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi has appealed to the Federal Government to take a second look at their stipulated Covid-19 budget and rather, consider begging drug manufacturers and rich nations for the vaccines.
The former Vice Presidential candidate while speaking in an interview on Channels Television, lamented on what he felt was an over-the-top and ludicrous budget for the Covid-19 vaccines and advised that the FG should instead, appeal to manufacturers for the vaccine.
Obi, speaking on the FG Procurement Budget for the Covid-19 vaccine explained that it makes little sense for Nigeria to apportion 80% of its health budget for the procurement of Covid-19 only. He also stated that sufficient Covid-19 vaccine for the country can be purchased for a price way below the figure being put forward by the FG.
“They said they need N400bn. Our Budget for health this year is N547bn and you are saying that you need 80% of that for vaccine procurement. Assuming that’s what we are going to use the money for. I have checked the vaccine we need to have 70% which WHO has stipulated that if they receive it is okay. The quantity we need cannot cost us more than N150bn. It might be less because there are people who are willing to give vaccines for free,” Obi said.
Mr. Obi took it a step further by advising the FG on how to go about the quest to get Covid-19 vaccines at a much cheaper rate. He believes the country should own up to its poor status and demand for help unashamedly. This, he said, will reduce the amount the FG will pay for the Covid-19 vaccines.
“Why don’t we beg manufacturers to donate, saying to them that we don’t have anything. We can go kneel and beg them saying please give us the vaccines. We are from a poor country. Give us a discount. There is nothing wrong with saying that you are poor. It is not a crime. Because you are poor,” Obi added.
Since pharmaceutical companies and drug manufacturers began discovering and manufacturing vaccines against the novel Covid-19, there have been concerns that the poorer nations might be left far behind in the race to acquire the vaccines.
In case you missed it
- Nigeria received its first batch of Covid 19 vaccines from India today. The first batch of Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from India landed in the Nigerian capital Abuja on Tuesday.
- About 3.94 million doses of the vaccines arrived at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja via an Emirates flight.
Covid-19 vaccines arrive Nigeria
Nigeria has received the first batch of the expected COVID-19 vaccine.
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency has announced that the expected COVAX Astrazeneca/Oxford vaccines have arrived in Nigeria.
The agency disclosed this in a social media statement on Tuesday after the first batch landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
— NPHCDA (@NphcdaNG) March 2, 2021
The Federal Government through different agencies had earlier hinted that 3.94 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India were expected to arrive today, March 2, 2021.
Present at the airport to receive the vaccines are; the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, Boss Mustapha, the DG of the NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, the Minister for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire and the DG of the Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control, NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu.
What you should know
- Nigeria has received nearly four million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, shipped via the COVAX Facility, a partnership between CEPI, Gavi, UNICEF and WHO.
- The National Primary Health Care Development Agency had earlier said it would commence the vaccination of Nigerians in priority groups, starting with frontline healthcare workers.
- The NPHCDA disclosed that it has built the capacity to train over 12,000 health workers to manage and administer the Covid-19 vaccines that will arrive in Nigeria soon.
- On Monday, the NPHCDA released guidelines on registering for Covid-19 vaccination in Nigeria.
- Ghana received its first shipment of Covid-19 vaccines from the Covax initiative on February 24, 2020.
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