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New COVID-19 Strain Discovered In Nigeria

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A new COVID-19 strain has been found in Osun State, Southwest Nigeria.

The strain was found after two to three sequencing by a group of researchers.

Dr. John Nkengasong, Head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control made the revelation in a Press Conference on Thursday. He said the new variant is different from those seen in the UK and in South Africa.

He added that the new strain has not caused enough infections to know its rate of infectivity.

It’s a separate lineage from the UK and South Africa,”

Nkengasong said the Africa CDC and the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases, Ede, Osun State will work more on the new strains to have a more viable opinion of its characteristics.

“Give us some time … it’s still very early,” he said.

“We haven’t observed such rapid rise of the lineage in Nigeria and do not have evidence to indicate that the P681H variant is contributing to increased transmission of the virus in Nigeria. However, the relative difference in scale of genomic surveillance in Nigeria vs the UK may imply a reduced power to detect such changes,” he added.

The new strain is yet to be identified as the reason for the surge in numbers of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria with a record daily case incidence recorded on Tuesday. Nigeria has become a hotspot for the first time since COVID-19 was reported in Africa and this meets government’s decision to close public spaces.

South Africa, by far Africa’s worst affected country has recorded almost a million cases, with a daily highest of 14,000 recorded on Wednesday. There were also 400 deaths.

Nkengasong in the briefing said the vaccine will not be affected by mutations going on in the SARS-COV-2. He said there are no proofs to make such conclusions.

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Algeria to Share COVID-19 Vaccines With Tunisia

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Algeria has promised to share some of their doses of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines with neighbours, Tunisia, a government official has revealed.

Tunisia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Othman Jerandi, says Algeria agreed to share the vaccines in in the spirit of fraternity between the two countries.

Algeria, which have already ordered the vaccines, expects to have them by the end of the month.

“Among the calls I made during this time, I had a call with my counterpart, the Algerian foreign minister, about the possibility of receiving some vaccines from Algeria.,” Jerandi said.

“The foreign minister responded positively and directly, saying that Algeria did not receive the vaccines yet, but the moment they receive them they will share them with its sister Tunis.”

It is not clear how many doses Algeria has ordered, nor how many each country needs to battle the virus effectively. However, reports said the country ordered Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine – with 500,000 doses due in the first delivery – as well as another vaccine from China.

Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune recently returned to Germany for a final phase of treatment after he caught coronavirus three months ago.

Tunisia, with a population of 12 million, has registered more than 5,000 deaths from coronavirus.

Its government imposed a four-day lockdown on 14 January to control the spread of the virus.

Algeria meanwhile has had 2,822 deaths and around 30,000 active cases, according to data published by Johns Hopkins university.

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COVID-19 Vaccines to Arrive Nigeria, Other Countries in February – Okonjo-Iweala

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) envoy on Covid-19, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, says the physical quantities of Covid-19 vaccines will begin to arrive in 12 middle and low-income countries that have indicated readiness to receive the vaccines from late February.

Nigeria is one of the 12.

Okonjo-Iweala, a Board Chair of Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) a public-private global health partnership with the goal of increasing access to immunisation in poor countries, said that the aim of COVAX sending the vaccines to the 12vcountries is to ensure that 20% of the respective population is vaccinated.

COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO and aims at accelerating the development and manufacture of Covid-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.

“As at now, with the scramble going on, the COVAX facility has been able to contract 1.9 billion doses of vaccines for all these countries and 88 countries have put in their request from all over the world, of this 88, 42 are African countries.

“In the assessment twelve of the African countries have said they are ready to receive vaccines now and I am happy to say Nigeria is one of them,” Okonjo-Iweala said.

She added further that: “What we are trying to do is with COVAX, is to try as quickly as feasible is to get vaccines to the (African) continent. COVAX expects that by the first quarter of this year and hopefully starting maybe late February, actual physical quantities of vaccines will begin to get to those countries that are ready and the aim is to send vaccines that will vaccinate twenty per cent of the population, beginning with twenty per cent.

“The prioritization is for frontline workers, those who are dealing with the medical issues to be vaccinated first and then the rest of the population according to criteria to be agreed by the government.

“Of those vaccines, AstraZeneca vaccines which are easier to distribute because they don’t require such cold conditions are good for our country, so we hope to get AstraZeneca. Also, we are looking at Novavax, Johnson & Johnson as well as Pfizer. So those are the vaccines that are in play right now that are being discussed and contracted for delivery when the time comes.”

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Nigeria Records Daily Highest Cases Of COVID-19 Again

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Nigeria on Friday recorded yet another daily highest cases of COVID-19 with 1867 new infections.

These new infections have increased the total number of cases to 107,345 with 1413 deaths also reported so far.

Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial epicentre reported 713 cases on the day while Plateau reported 273 cases. The federal capital territory and Kaduna also reported more than 100 cases each.

The total number of cases were recorded in 23 states. On January 6, Nigeria had reported 1,664 cases in what was then the daily highest.

In the last 7 days, more than 13,000 samples have been found positive for COVID-19 across Nigeria while there have been spikes in case fatalities too with 8 recorded on Friday.

Read: Nigeria’s COVID-19 Cases Cross 100,000 Mark

On the same day, more than 500 recoveries were reported with Lagos recording 277. Kaduna had 150 and Plateau had 78 recoveries.

Nigeria has recorded more than 13,000 cases in the past 9 days.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian government has insisted schools must reopen with increasing cases, despite precautions taken to limit transmission.

The second wave of COVID-19 has proven to be more devastating than the first as it has taken more lives and infected more people.

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