COVID-19: Nigeria working with WHO, others on vaccines

Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire at the PTF on COVID-19 briefing

Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire speaks on rising cases of COVID-19

Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire at the PTF on COVID-19 briefing

By Abujah Racheal

The Federal Government says the nation is working with the World Health Organisation (WHO), GAVI, and others on therapeutics and vaccines against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said this on Thursday in Abuja at the 59th joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

Ehanire said that Nigeria had as of August 19, 2020, crossed the 50,000 landmark and recorded 50,488 COVID-19 cases, this was out of 366,244 samples tested so far, of which 37,304 persons were successfully treated and discharged.

“We have sadly had 985 fatalities, which is also a reminder to us all, that COVID-19 has not abated.

“Male preponderance remains high, with more infections in the age group below 50 years, but more fatalities in the higher age brackets and among the vulnerable with comorbidities.

“The changing dynamics of the virus and the disease make it necessary for us to continue to review our response strategies, ensure we train and update our health workers on the latest and most effective approach to treatment of the disease and tailor our procurement in the light of knowledge gained,” he said.

The minister said that the Department of Hospital Services, FMOH, would lead the effort to increase the pool of experts and focal persons in various specialties.

He said the ministry will train trainers in Infection Prevention and Control at all service and health facilities and that one such training was recently concluded in Gombe state.

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Ehanire said that the information session on COVID-19, conducted weekly by the World Health Organisation (WHO) was held on Thursday morning and that he had the opportunity of sharing Nigeria experience, as one of two countries invited to make presentations on national response strategies.

“A clear message from this briefing is that COVID-19 is a threat to mankind and there is a need for all countries to work together for solutions that will allow equitable access to information sharing on therapeutics and vaccines.

“In the words of the Director-General of the WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, “by working together, we are protecting each other. In a global pandemic, none of us is safe until all of us are safe,” he stated.

According to him, Nigeria is also working with WHO to finalise enrollment with ACT Accelerator, a global mechanism tracking and sponsoring research organisations working on COVID-19 vaccine development.

He said: “We are also interested in the COVAX facility, a GAVI supported global initiative to procure and assure equitable access to vaccines, as soon as they are available, especially for Lower and Lower Middle Income Countries (LMIC).

“This will prioritise Nigeria for allocation of a part of two billion vaccine doses that will be secured, in a special plan to protect the interests of poorer countries,” he said.

He urged all Nigerians to take responsibility together, not only for today but also for the days ahead, when the imperative to open the nation’s economy would demand great sacrifice and discipline from all.

The minister said that though the new normal might be demanding but the government and citizens must collaborate to halt the spread of this disease for the sake of each other.

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