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Meet Nigerian Medical Doctor Leading Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

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Africans have since time immemorial travelled far and wide in search of pastures greener. This search for betterment and greatness has seen many hitting remarkable achievements and a place in the sands of time.

The beauty of history is that it never forgets those who makes it glossy, like it never forgives those who make it rough. However, those that stay on its good side will always be remembered for the quality of their efforts.

Africans have always stood up to be counted in every field of human endeavour; from the arts to the sciences, to the business world where some sons and daughters of the continent have maintained a clean streak of greatness.

Amid many who have written their name in the sands of time is a Nigerian-trained medical doctor leading the world’s charge to a better health.

COVID-19 Hero

The realities of COVID-19 have struck every country of the world badly. The world has not been the same ever since the disease announced itself, as nations battle for survival amid an enemy that threatens to ground the world to a halt.

Stoic to their responsibilities to provide better lives for many, some researchers and companies have sought solutions- most expectedly a vaccine to help against the prevention of Coronavirus. Where this solution has been most highly recognised and remarked, an African is at its centre.

Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu, a Nigerian Associate Professor of the Yale University is leading trials for vaccines Pfizer and BioNTech have reported to have an over 90% efficacy.

The world heaved a sigh of relief for a moment when Pfizer made the announcement and Dr. Ogbuagu told ABC News that the “scientific community has run out of emojis” to describe how happy they feel with the new achievement.


Who’s Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu?

A graduate of the College of Medicine, University of Calabar, South-south Nigeria, he’s one of the twin sons of two Professors – Chibuzo Ogbuagu, a former vice-chancellor of Abia State University, and Stella Ogbuagu, a professor of sociology.

Ogbuagu spent part of his early childhood in Connecticut, United States before heading back to Nigeria for his university education.

After graduation from UNICAL, the medical doctor interned at the Ebonyi State University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Nigeria.

From there, he proceeded to intern at Mount Sinai School of Medicine (Elmhurst), New York where he rose to become chief resident at the same school. He soon became a fellow of Infectious Diseases, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.

A clinician-educator track and Director of the HIV Clinical Trials program of the Yale AIDS Program, Section of Infectious Diseases of the Yale School of Medicine, Ogbuagu described his work to include;
educating and training medical students, residents and infectious diseases fellows in various capacities in inpatient and outpatient settings; and through structured course work and other teaching sessions.

He has trained track of the Yale-Internal Medicine primary care program. For more than 6 years as a faculty of the Human Resources for Health program in Rwanda, he has had extensive experience with curriculum development, structuring of residency training programs, and mentoring residents and faculty.

In Rwanda, he has been mentoring medical residents and junior faculty in quality improvement and clinical research projects that are locally relevant and addressing important infectious diseases-related problems (particularly HIV/AIDS and antimicrobial resistance).

Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu

As program director of World Bank and HRSA, he funded efforts supporting the Liberia College of Physicians and surgeons (LCPS), where he ran Internal medicine residency training program. Dr. Ogbuagu has also overseen the selection and deployment of faculty to Liberia, and is responsible for educational programs and activities aimed at strengthening the residency training program.

He’s on the forefront in the prevention of HIV/AIDS and has worked as the Director of the Yale AIDS Program HIV clinical trials program.

He’s the principal investigator on multiple investigational therapeutic and preventative clinical trials for COVID-19 including remdesivir (now FDA approved), leronlimab and remdesivir and tocilizumab combination therapy.

What has brought Dr. Ogbuagu, an African child, to the limelight is his service to the world, where he leads successful trial of Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine against COVID-19.

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AU Allocates 8.7 Million Doses of COVID-19 Vaccines to Zambia

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Zambia’s ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union (AU), Emmanuel Mwamba, on Sunday said the AU has allocated 8.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to his country.

He added that the allocated doses may rise to 25 million by December 2021.

The 8.7 million doses is part of the 270 million COVID-19 vaccines secured this month by the AU and which South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who serves as AU chair, has said will be allocated according to countries’ population size.

The vaccines secured by the AU will be supplied by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, through the Serum Institute of India, and Johnson & Johnson.

“If member states have to buy individually, they have to wait until July 2022, but through this mechanism, we can access the vaccines by April 2021,” Zambia’s ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the AU, Emmanuel Mwamba said in a statement.

“The vaccines will require approval from the Africa CDC and further approval from local regulatory and other approval mechanisms,” he said, referring to the AU’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 8.7 million doses will be the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines and Zambia’s allocation may rise to 25 million doses by December 2021 when the J&J vaccine comes on board, Mwamba added.

Zambia, with a population close to 18 million, has 45,337 COVID-19 cases and 639 people have died from the disease.

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Zimbabwe Tightens Restrictions as 2 More Ministers Die of COVID-19

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Two ministers serving in the Zimbabwean government died of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) within a matter of days, prompting the country to announce on Saturday plans to further tighten lockdown measures.

Late on Friday, the government announced that Transport Minister Joel Matiza had died after falling ill with COVID-19, less than two days after the country lost Foreign minister Sibusiso Moyo to the same disease.

Four government ministers have succumbed to the coronavirus in Zimbabwe so far.

According to unconfirmed media reports, several other cabinet ministers are fighting for their lives in a private hospital.

“We are in a dark cloud that we have to clear very soon,” deputy health minister John Mangwiro told dpa.

Mangwiro revealed plans to intensify the current lockdown, which has been in place since early January and includes a strict nightly curfew.

Restaurants, bars and gyms have also been forced to close.

“We have seen people not adhering to the lockdown regulations announced early this month,” he added.

Zimbabwe has registered 30,523 cases of infection since the start of the pandemic, including 962 deaths.

The numbers may seem relatively low compared to other countries.

However, the outbreak is putting the nation’s health system under considerable pressure.

Zimbabweans have taken to the social media to blame President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his predecessor, the late Robert Mugabe, for the country’s dilapidated health infrastructure.

Health workers recently went on strike over a lack of protective equipment and poor salaries.

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Nigeria Confirmed COVID-19 Cases Hit 118,138

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Nigeria’s health agency on Friday night announced 1,483 new cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total number of infections in the country to 118,138.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) also confirmed that the West African nation recorded additional five coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll in the country to 1,490.

The NCDC disclosed this on its official website on Friday.

Nigeria has so far tested 1,225,179 people since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was recorded on Feb. 27, 2020 in the country.

The NCDC said that the new infections were from 22 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

It stated that Kaduna state reported the highest number of infections with 545 new cases, raising the tally of cases in the state to 7,176 and 56 deaths

The agency said that the FCT came second with 235 new infections, for a tally of 15,506 and 119 deaths.

In other states, it reported Plateau with 127, Nasarawa-80, Oyo-72, Delta-65, Rivers-64, Kano-46, Ogun-46, Bayelsa-30, Gombe-30, Abia-28, Osun-27, Edo-25, Ondo-14, Sokoto-12, Zamfara-10, Bauchi-eight Imo-five Jigawa-four, Ekiti-four, Borno-four and Niger-two.

The NCDC said: “On Thursday, we erroneously reported one new case, instead of three new cases for Zamfara State.”

“Friday’s report does not include data from Lagos State,” it said.

The public health institute noted that 504 people have been successfully treated and discharged from various isolation centers in the country.

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

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