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Vaccines May Not Work Against South Africa’s COVID-19 Variant – Researchers

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As vaccination goes on in parts of the world, researchers in South Africa have said the COVID-19 variant discovered in the country has been seen to escape antibodies.

According to the researchers, the 501Y.V2 variant, discovered in the country, has been seen to evade antibodies that attack it during plasma treatment. Blood plasma from previously recovered patients has been used in treatment as the antibodies are able to identify and attack the virus.

The treatment is now under threat as new research claims that the South African variant may be even more complex than first thought.

The variant has been found to be 50% more infectious than other variants and has spread quickly to 20 countries of the world.

Nations have since locked borders on South Africa and have prevented travels to and from the country.

“This lineage exhibits complete escape from three classes of therapeutically relevant monoclonal antibodies,” a team of scientists from three South African universities working with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) wrote in a paper published in the bioRxiv journal.

“Furthermore, 501Y.V2 shows substantial or complete escape from neutralising antibodies in COVID-19 convalescent plasma,”

They added that their conclusions drawn also “highlight the prospect of reinfection … and may foreshadow reduced efficacy of current spike-based vaccines.”

South Africa is the continent’s worst-hit country with over one million cases and its second wave of COVID-19 is driven by the variant under study.

In the past month, the new variant was responsible for very high infections in South Africa, which were in the region of 21,000 per day before reducing recently to over 10,000 infections daily.

In some countries, convalescent blood plasma has been used for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, with reservations found in severely ill cases, where the method hasn’t worked greatly.

Some scientists have warned that currently developed and available vaccines may not be efficacious enough for the new variant of the disease and there may be a need to develop new vaccines for the fast-spreading variant.

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French Group Fined $14.55M, Industrialist to Go on Trial over Togo Bribe Case

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Vincent Bollore, a French industrialist, businessman, media owner and billionaire, will go on trial over bribery allegations involving a Togolese official, a court in Paris has ruled.

Also, the court fined the Bollore Group $14.55 million over the case, which involves the bribing of an official in Togo to win a contract to run the port of Lomé a decade ago.

Bolloré, Gilles Alix, managing director of the Bolloré group and Jean-Philippe Dorent, international director of the Havas agency, a subsidiary of Bolloré, had accepted an appearance on prior admission of guilt (CRPC, a sort of “plead guilty” at the French) and the payment of a fine of $450,000.

However, the judge in Paris ruled that the corruption trial of a leading French industrialist should go ahead, despite his guilty plea.

The court decided that the case against Bolloré was so serious that it should not be settled, as agreed with prosecutors, with a $450,000 fine.

Jean-François Bohnert, in a statement on Friday, said Bollore Group will pay a 12 million-euro ($14.55 million) fine following a transaction with prosecutors in the alleged bribery case.

The transaction effectively puts an end to the legal proceedings in the case against the conglomerate.

“The investigation had concerned the corruption of foreign public officials, abuse of trust and complicity in breaches of trust committed between 2009 and 2011,” the financial prosecutor said.

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Nigeria Seeks U.S’ Help on Army Aviation Unit

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Nigeria’s Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd), is seeking the support of the U.S. to enable the Nigerian Army Aviation Unit to become fully operational.

A statement by Magashi’s Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mohammad Abdulkadri, on Friday, said he made the call during a visit of the U.S. delegation led by the Commander of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), Gen. Stephen Townsend, on Thursday in Abuja.

Magashi said that a full fledged Nigerian army aviation was a critical component in the ongoing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency campaigns.

According to him, Nigeria will appreciate the U.S. intervention to fully establish the Aviation Unit of the Nigerian Army as a force multiplier in the on-going fight against ISWAP/terrorists in the country.

The Minister thanked the U.S. for its technical and manpower training supports towards enhancing the nation’s capacity and capabilities to end insecurity bedeviling the country.

He acknowledged the progress recorded in the supply of Super Tucano aircraft and Thunder Boat, for maritime operations and logistics, to the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) for enhanced combat efficiency and effectiveness.

Magashi also disclosed that the Nigerian military had adopted international best practices to reduce collateral damage in the fight against terrorism.

He added that the fighting forces were leveraging low kinetic modus operandi in the theatres of combats in compliance with the Rules of Engagements.

Townsend commended Nigeria for playing a leading role in Africa’s sub-regional security matters.

He assured the government that the U.S. would continue to support the country’s military.

Townsend also commiserated with Nigeria on the aircraft mishap that claimed the lives of seven crew members onboard the plane.

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Residents Protest as Bandits Abduct 317 Schoolgirls in Zamfara, Northern Nigeria

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Residents in Jangebe in Talata-Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State, Northern Nigeria, on Friday, stormed the streets to protest the abduction of students of Government Girls Science Secondary School in the area.

This is as the Commissioner of Police in Zamfara, Abutu Yaro, confirmed 317 female students were abducted from the school by bandits from their hostels on Friday.

Yaro, who spoke with journalists, expressed dismay with members of the affected community, who resorted to taking the law into their hands by attacking vehicles, including those on a rescue mission.

“People must understand that the government and security agents are on their side and against the bandits that is why it is very important for them to see the need to allow security agents do their work effectively and rescue the victims.

“We are doing our best along with all sister security agencies, members of the vigilantè group and the state government to get to the bottom of this matter.

“l can assure you that we will rescue all the students unhurt,” he said.

Some residents who spoke with journalists said that the bandits came in their hundreds riding on motorcycles and shooting in the air before entering the school around 2 a.m on Friday.

A staff of the school said that 60 of the girls were safe as some of them hid from the attackers during the invasion.

The protesting villagers took to the streets, destroying vehicles that were coming to the village.

The residents, women and children, used sticks and stones to attack vehicles, including two vehicles conveying journalists from various media houses, injuring a cameraman.

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