With COVID-19 vaccines expected in Africa in January 2021, some African nations have indicated interest in acquiring doses for their citizens.
Through the COVAX intervention of the WHO, in partnership with GAVI, most middle and low income countries will get vaccines for their citizens from next year till 2022.
Economic giants – Nigeria and South Africa have indicated interest in the vaccine, with the Southern African nation already paying R330m for the product. The vaccines are expected to be available for 1.8 million of the country’s nearly 60 million population.
The Nigerian government has also said the sum of N400bn will be needed for the procurement of vaccines that will be available for 70% of the population.
While nations are scrambling and waiting on the vaccine, Dr. Peter Imoesi, a Nigerian Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland points out that the vaccine has its pros and cons.
Dr. Imoesi said initial observations in the first vaccinations showed some health workers showing allergic reactions to the vaccine. He also said a research literature from Pfizer has advised that people with immune reactions should not be given the vaccine.
He said the age range expected to be vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine are those from 18 and above, while for Moderna it’s 16 and above. Africa has a median age range of 18.1 and is the continent with the youngest population in the world.
Further advising what African governments need to do, he said the content of the vaccines must be studied, to understand what has been used to develop them. He also advised African countries to conduct their own study on the vaccines and be less dependent on what is coming from Europe and America.
Africa Needs More Research
Dr. Moses Masika, a Kenyan Virologist from the University of Nairobi believes there is the need for more research in Africa, but the possibility that the continent is dealing with a totally different strain, is low.
He said this is because there are diverse strains found causing COVID-19 in the continent.
“Those questions have been raised and we may not have definitive answers until we analyse as many sequences as we need to but even in the face of the new B.1.1.7 strain, there’s a notorious mutation identified in that strain and other strains, in South Africa.
“I wouldn’t think we have weaker strains as such. What I think we had was an initial slow rise as a result of few travelling activities from and to Africa. People also had fears and took measures which have been very easy and not resource-intensive.”
He further highlighted the importance of leadership in the fight against the pandemic and said leaders’ reaction will go a long way in boosting the morale of the citizens.
Africa May Not Be Facing The Second Wave Yet
Dr. Imoesi said African countries may not be in the second wave of the disease yet as inadequate testing has shown. He said a country that hasn’t tested enough people may not know the true impact of the disease.
He further highlighted Nigeria’s case as an example of where false-negative results may have shown a false impression of the actual situation.
He said the viability of a sample for COVID-19 lasts hours but Nigeria keeps samples for 48 hours at times and that affects the quality of the sample. The researcher said this may be one of the reasons most test results have returned negative.
He further added that the youthful African population is one of the reasons COVID-19 has not been devastating in Africa.
Zimbabwe Tightens Restrictions as 2 More Ministers Die of COVID-19
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.
Nigeria Confirmed COVID-19 Cases Hit 118,138
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.
Zimbabwe Warns Citizens Against Patronising Rogue COVID-19 Doctor
The Medical and Dental Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe (MDPCZ), on Friday, warned against the illegal practice of one Jacqueline Carey Stone, who was allegedly treating COVID-19 patients using unregistered medicines.
In a statement, the MDPCZ said the public should be wary of Stone’s practice, as she does not have a valid license to practice as a medical professional in the country.
“The premises at which she is treating COVID-19 patients have not been registered for purposes of medical practice and thus posing a health risk to the public.
“She is putting the lives of the public at risk by treating the patients with unregistered medicines, including medicines for animal use,’’ the MDPCZ said.
It added that Stone is conducting clinical trials without the full approval of the Research Council of Zimbabwe, and is also working with unregistered persons to dispense and counsel patients.
“MDPCZ will not allow any registered medical practitioner to offer unsafe treatment to the public of Zimbabwe,’’ said the body, that regulates the practice of medicine and dentistry in the country.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of a resurging COVID-19 pandemic.
The death toll has risen phenomenally since the beginning of this month and now stands at 917 out of the 30,047 COVID-19 infections recorded in the country since last March.
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