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Delta Variant Highly Contagious, More Than Twice As Deadly As Previous COVID -19 Variants , NPHCDA Boss Warns

Dr. Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), has stated that the Delta variant is highly contagious, more than twice as contagious as previous COVID-19 variants, and that the longer a community/society goes without vaccination, the more likely the virus will mutate into more virulent forms.

Furthermore, we have vaccines that halt the mutation process and prevent disease-related fatalities.

As a result, he encourages us to take advantage of the federal government’s efforts to keep residents safe and secure from the virus.

Shuaib gave this hinted on Tuesday while addressing journalists on the status of Nigeria’s phase II COVID-19 immunization rollout.

According to him , “I am glad to inform you that our phase II COVID-19 vaccination with Moderna and AstraZeneca has now fully commenced in all the 36 states and FCT.  I want to particularly urge all those who received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine before 8th July, 2021 to visit the nearest designated health facility and receive their 2nd dose. The list of vaccination sites across the country is available on the NPHCDA website. It has also been published in the Daily Trust and The Nation newspapers.

“As of 6th September 2021, a total of 3,600,858 eligible Nigerians have so far received their 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine. This is made up of 2,551,738 persons vaccinated with AstraZeneca vaccine and 1,049,120 persons vaccinated with Moderna vaccine. Therefore, 1,576,011 persons have been fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca vaccine. We have now restarted the administration of AstraZeneca as first dose in all designated health facilities. The decision to re-open AstraZeneca for first dose administration is hinged on the fact that we received an additional 1,394,480 doses of vaccines through the COVAX facility. You may recall that at previous briefings I did inform you that as we receive additional supplies, we will open it up for first dose administration.

“We also received 1,123,200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine late evening on Saturday 4th September 2021 through the AVATT platform, coordinated by the African Union Commission, as part of the 39,800,000 doses procured by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The NAFDAC team have already taken samples for analysis and are currently scanning the codes to ensure proper serialization of the vaccine.

“In recognition of the fact that some workers may find it difficult to leave their duty post to the vaccination site, we have introduced and expanded in-situ corporate vaccination. This entails making special arrangement for eligible staff, dependants and retirees of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs) and the private sector to get vaccinated in their office premises.

“MDAs, public and private corporate organization that require staff to be vaccinated should visit to fill the request form. These services would be provided at no cost to the Ministries, agency/cooperate bodies. States and LGAs should please note that no fees/levies should be mandated from the cooperate bodies when teams are sent to provide these services”, he said.

Shuaib further hinted that, “There have been questions raised by some, about a few vaccinated individuals who have contracted COVID-19 infection. Where such rare cases of COVID-19 infection occur in individuals who have received the vaccination more than 14 days prior, it is called breakthrough infection. The observation is that in these individuals, the disease is usually milder than those who were unvaccinated. Vaccination prevents one from severe disease, hospitalization and death. If our communities continue to remain unvaccinated, we will keep endangering our citizens most especially those who are vulnerable, elderly or immunocompromised. I encourage us to be our brother’s keepers and adhere to all measures to not just protect ourselves, but our loved ones, friends and communities. Taking the jab is a first step towards taking responsibility.”

NPHCDA boss added that, they have been inundated with questions about why the UK insists Nigerians who have been fully vaccinated are still required to isolate upon arrival in the UK. The reason is quite simple: We in Nigeria also require fully vaccinated UK citizens to isolate for seven days despite being fully vaccinated. In diplomatic circles, this is often referred to as the principle of reciprocity. Nigeria alongside countries like France and the Netherlands are listed as amber countries by the UK Government based on criteria such as the number of populations immunized and incidence rates of COVID-19 infection. Individuals from Countries listed as amber countries are required by the UK Government to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival and be quarantined for a few days. Regardless of a vaccine type or vaccination status, if a Nigerian with a Nigerian passport travels to a Country on their green list and spends 14 days there before going to the UK, they would not be quarantined in the UK because they are coming from a green listed country. Likewise, if a German or Australian that is currently from their green listed country travels to a country like France, Ghana or Italy which is on their amber list like Nigeria, and such an individual spends 14 days or more in these countries before departing to the UK, such an individual would be made to do a COVID-19 test and quarantined, regardless of their vaccination status. Just like Nigeria, every Country has its own COVID-19 travel rules, protocols and guidelines for travellers coming from other Countries. So, this should be a motivation for all eligible Nigerians to get vaccinated, in order for us to increase our population coverage and return back to normalcy.

Also speaking on the issue of recognizing the Indian made Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine also known as Covishield, this is really more of a documentation matter, rather than a quality issue. We got these vaccines through WHO and COVAX. So COVAX and WHO are pursuing the issue across the globe, rather than each Country addressing it separately. The WHO and COVAX have so far gotten 15 Countries to recognize the Covishield vaccine. They are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. They are working on getting more countries to recognize the documentation.

He however stated that finally, we should all remember, no country is safe until all countries achieve herd immunity.  He urged you all to remain vigilant of mischief makers who have now resorted to producing fake news on COVID-19 vaccination. A lot of time, energy and resources have been invested by Nigeria and the rest of the world to end this pandemic. It is therefore incumbent on us to ensure the success of this vaccination campaign by arming ourselves with correct and reliable information and resisting every attempt to be misguided on COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination. The conspiracies around COVID-19 vaccines are exactly what they are: mere conspiracy theories that are not based on verifiable evidence. If we interrogate these theories carefully, we will come to the realization that they are carefully worded to mislead. Therefore, we should disregard them completely because we know better, he stated.

Similarly , the World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo said globally, WHO is calling for a moratorium on boosters until at least the end of September, to enable at least 10% of the population of every country to be vaccinated.

He added that, vaccine injustice is a shame on all humanity and if we don’t tackle it together, we will prolong the acute stage of this pandemic for years when it could be over in a matter of months.

According to him; “In Africa, the third wave appears to have stabilized but the number of new cases is still very high with almost 248 000 reported in the past week.

“The trend we see is that each new wave strikes Africa faster and harder, reaching a higher number of new cases more rapidly than the previous wave. This puts an increasing strain on already stretched health facilities and health workers.

“It is useful to point out that vaccine supplies to Africa continue to rise, spurring vaccine uptake.

“The increasing vaccine supplies raise hopes that the continent will meet the target of vaccinating 10% of the population by the end of September”, he stressed.

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