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Existing vaccines largely ineffective against new variants of COVID — FG

… Says, 963,802 vaccinated

The Federal Government has asked Nigerians to continue to maintain all non-pharmaceutical measures against the COVID-19, saying the vaccines have proved largely effective against some new variants of the virus.

Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce PTF on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha disclosed this on Tuesday at a briefing of the task force.

He said over 963, 000 have now been vaccinated against the virus.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) granted Emergency Use License (EUL) to three vaccines – Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. There are at least 10 other vaccines that have been granted emergency use approval by national regulatory authorities, and more than 80 vaccine candidates in development. Additionally, two antigen-based Rapid Diagnostic Test kits (RDTs) have been approved for use by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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“As you are aware, Nigeria, received 3.92 million doses of the COVID-19 Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on 2nd March 2021. These vaccines represented the first tranche of about 16 million doses allocated to Nigeria through the COVAX facility, aimed at vaccinating an initial 20% of the population. More vaccines are also expected from the African Union’s Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT). During this briefing, we shall also be receiving about 100,000 doses of Covishield vaccines donated by the Government of India to Nigeria. This will further boost the number of Nigerians to be vaccinated by about fifty thousand.

“The PTF through the FMH and the NPHCDA prioritised the initial consignment of vaccines to cover frontline medical personnel, strategic leadership, and those above the age of 50 years across the nation. The majority of sub-national entities have already received their allocation and administration is progressing. As of April 5, 2021, 963,802 persons, in Nigeria, had received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The overarching objective is to vaccinate 70% of Nigeria’s population between 2021 and 2022.

“The global hope offered by the arrival of vaccines has however been threatened by the detection of variants of concern as described by the WHO (B.1.1.7; B.1.351; P.1). These variants are associated with an increase in the spread of the virus (transmissibility), and account for the third wave of infections currently occurring in Germany, France, United Kingdom, Brazil and a host of other countries. There is some evidence that existing vaccines are less effective against the variants. While research is ongoing looking at the impact of variants of concern on the global situation, Nigeria has remained very vigilant in this regard and shall continue to apply science and data to navigate this dangerous terrain”, Mustapha stated.

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He said the PTF will transition to a Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, effective from 1 April 2021, with a modified mandate to reflect the non-emergent status of COVID-19 as a potentially long-term pandemic.

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