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AU Acquires 270 Million Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine

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The Africa Union (AU) says it has secured a provisional 270 million doses of coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccines for distribution across the continent.

African Union chairman, the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, said all the doses – which is in addition to some 600 million doses already promised – will be used in 2020.

The 600 million doses are expected from the global Covax effort which aims to provide vaccines to lower-income countries.

There are fears that poorer countries globally will wait far longer than richer nations to be inoculated.

Although infection numbers and death rates are comparatively lower across most of Africa, cases are spiking again in some areas.

A new variant of Covid-19 in South Africa is causing particular alarm and makes up most of the new cases.

“As a result of our own efforts we have so far secured a commitment of a provisional amount of 270 million vaccines from three major suppliers: Pfizer, AstraZeneca (through Serum Institute of India) and Johnson & Johnson,” President Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.

“At least 50 million of the doses will be available “for the crucial period of April to June 2021,” he said.

Africa has a population of 1.3 billion people and with each person needing at least two vaccine jabs, the continent would need around 2.6 billion doses to eventually vaccinate everyone.

“These endeavours aim to supplement the Covax efforts, and to ensure that as many dosages of vaccine as possible become available throughout Africa as soon as possible,” he explained.

Africa has recorded more than three million cases of Covid-19 and nearly 75,000 deaths.

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Four Cases of UK COVID-19 Variant Discovered in Nigeria

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The Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, has reported the presence of four Nigerians who tested positive to the highly contagious United Kingdom (UK) COVID-19 strain.

Ihekweazu, who disclosed this at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, in Abuja, stated the positive cases include three Nigerians who had travelled out of the country, while one was in-country, adding that it was not surprising to find the new strain in the country given the frequency of travel between the UK and Nigeria.

“In the last week, we have had three reports of the UK variant of interest, the B117 strain found in individuals who have left Nigeria to two other countries.

“When they were tested, this strain was found in them within a week of returning to Nigeria. This was reported to us through the international health regulations and it is most likely this strain was acquired in Nigeria.

“With our partners, the African Centre for Excellence in Genomics, we sent 50 samples to them in Ede and one of those samples had the UK variant linked to increased transmission,” he explained.

Ihekweazu said that the agency would keep intensifying its genomics surveillance and genomics sequencing, in collaboration with its partners, as shutting down international travel would not achieve much, so long as the virus was still ravaging in other countries.

He disclosed that the NCDC had rolled out rapid diagnostic test kits, which were used at the National Youth Service Orientation camps, adding that 22,119 individuals had been tested, with 765 confirmed cases, using the RTDs in every state, except Kogi.

Meanwhile, Ihekweazu has denied reports that the NCDC is making money from the private laboratories engaged in COVID-19 testing.

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Moderna Vaccine Found Effective Against COVID-19 Variant found in South Africa

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Tests conducted by global pharmaceutical giant, Moderna,have found that its COVID-19 vaccine may work against the South African variant of the virus.

The variant, called 501Y.V2 has a high transmission rate and has led to increased number of cases in South Africa.

It has also spread to more than 20 countries of the world.

Although current vaccines were prepared against to work against the earlier strains, tests conducted have shown the Moderna vaccine also has an effect on the new strain.

The results are yet to be put under peer reviews with that expected to happen in the coming days.

The vaccine has also been found to be effective against the UK variant with a better efficaciousness, in comparison with the South African variant.

South Africa is believed to have made arrangements AstraZeneca and China’s Sinopharm vaccines with the variant raging in the country probably not captured by the vaccines currently in distribution.

The country will also pay prices higher than more financially buoyant countries in the European Union.

While Moderna vaccine may work, the company has also said the immunity it gives against the South African variant may disappear quickly.

South African researchers have said the vaccines produced now may not have an effect against the highly infectious variant in the country.

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COVID-19: Nigeria Records 3 Deaths, 1,430 Infections in 24 Hours

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No fewer than three people died from complications related to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said.

The health agency, in a statement on its website, said it recorded 1,430 cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 122,996.

The NCDC disclosed this on its website on Monday.

The country has so far tested 1,270,523 people since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was recorded on Feb. 27, 2020 in the country.

The Nigeria’s public health institute sadly registered three additional coronavirus related deaths in the last 24 hours in the country.

The NCDC stated that the new infections were reported from 18 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

The agency, in its breakdown of the newly recorded infections, shows that Lagos state reported the highest number of confirmed infections with 744 cases.

This brought the total number of infections in the state to 45,684 and 292 deaths recorded.

Plateau reported 100 infections, Oyo had 77 and the FCT, the second most affected by the disease in the country registered 75 new infections.

Amongst other states were; Nasarawa-74, Katsina-48, Edo-42, Kano-41, Enugu-37, Rivers-34, Ogun-33, Kwara-32, Niger-28, Ebonyi-27, Kaduna-26, Borno-12, Yobe-10, Ekiti-five and Gombe-one.

The health agency also announced the discharge of 1,131 patients from isolation centers across the country.

According to it, the discharges today include 435 community recoveries in Lagos State and 184 community recoveries in Kaduna State managed in line with guidelines.

It noted that a multi-sectoral national Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) activated at Level 3, is coordinating response activities nationwide.

The country’s COVID-19 infections have witnessed a significant increase since Nov. 29 till date.

During the period, from November 29 to December 3, a total of 1,607 cases were recorded and since then, the country’s weekly infections have recorded a massive increase.

In the previous week, the country recorded 9,880 new infections Jan. 10 to Jan. 16, an increase when compared to the 9,833 cases recorded in the penultimate week January 3 -9 and the 5,681 cases recorded from Dec. 27 to January 2.

However, from Jan. 17 to Jan. 23, the country recorded 11,659 new infections out of the 87,092 samples tested.

Also, the 2,314 cases reported on Friday, January 22 is the highest daily figure of confirmed cases since the pandemic broke out in February 27, 2020.

Data from the NCDC show that a total of 87,092 samples were collected for testing as of November 20 as against the 136,077 tested the previous week.

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