COVID-19 increased nearly 30% In past two weeks- WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the global reported cases of COVID-19 have increased by nearly 30 per cent over the past two weeks.

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said this on Wednesday during an online COVID-19 media briefing.

Ghebreyesus said that four out of six of the WHO sub-regions saw cases increasing in the last week.

According to him, compounding the challenge are a number of factors.

Ghebreyesus said the first was that testing has reduced dramatically in many countries.

Read Also: No African country is experiencing COVID-19 resurgence says WHO

Second, new treatments, especially promising new oral antivirals, are still not reaching low and low-middle income countries, depriving whole populations that need them.

“Third, as the virus evolves, vaccines protection while still really effective at preventing serious disease and death does wane.

According to Ghebreyesus, it obviously impacts individuals and their families but it also puts an extra burden on health systems, the wider economy and society-at-large.

He said the challenges required action at a global, national and local level.

He said that governments, scientists, manufacturers, WHO and citizens themselves all have their part to play.


Covid-19: Nigeria could miss September Immunization Coverage Target.

The Director Planning, Research & statistics at the national primary health care development agency (NPHCDA) Doctor Abdullahi Garba says Nigeria may miss the September seventy percent COVID-19 immunization target, as the country is very far from the goal.

Doctor Abdullahi stated this at the bi-weekly Ministerial Press briefing on control COVID-19

According to him out of the estimated over one hundred and eleven eligible population, only 21.2 million of this targeted population have been fully vaccinated, while 28.4 million have received one jab.

The figures represent 19.05 percent of fully vaccinated individuals and 25.4 percent of partially vaccinated People

The director is advocating for the need to be more aggressive in ramping up vaccination against the virus.


FG Release Updated Figures of Vaccinated Nigerians

The Federal Government says over 29 million eligible persons have received the 1st dose of the COVID-19 vaccines noting that this represents 23.4% Nigeria’s eligible population.

It further said 14,179,966 persons have received the 2nd dose and 17,702,018 are fully vaccinated which represent 15.8% of its eligible population while 1,178,604 persons have received the booster dose.

The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency Dr. Faisal Shuaib disclosed this on Tuesday while receiving 4.4 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine donated by Spain to Nigeria.

According to him, these figures shows that Nigeria is a far cry from its target of 70% of its eligible population but however noted that these donations will help towards achieving its target.

Dr. Shuaib said if we keep up with vaccination, the likely scenario is that even though the virus continues to evolve, the severity of the disease will reduce over time, as the immunity increases due to vaccination.

Read: Covid-19 Vaccination: 55 million Nigerians to be Vaccinated by End of January 2022

He however said If majority of our eligible population in Nigeria and globally continue to remain unvaccinated, what we may see is that a more virulent and highly transmissible variant could emerge, sooner or later which would be worse than any variant seen.

He said striving to vaccinate 70% of the eligible population of every country remains essential for bringing the pandemic under control and Nigeria is working hard to ensure its citizens has access to the lifesaving vaccines.

He assured that they will continue to work with all stakeholders, partners and communities to ensure an inclusive COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Nigeria.

The Spain Ambassador to Nigeria Juan Ignatio Sell, in his remark, said there is need to protect, safeguard and invest in health and health workers, adding that this is the effort line that Spain is co-leading in the framework of the Global Action Plan.

He added that they have committed 300 million euros for further donations and projects to strengthen public health systems.

He also harped on the need to improve global mechanisms for technology transfer to decentralize the production of health products in all regions, Africa in particular.


Botswana and South Africa scientists detect new sub-lineages of Omicron COVID-19 – WHO

A statement from the World Health Organisation’s Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville has revealed that researchers in Botswana and South Africa have detected new sub-lineages of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 and are carrying out further investigations to fully understand crucial traits such as infectivity and virulence.

The statement said the identified sub-lineages variant are BA.4 and BA.5.

“World Health Organization (WHO) experts are working with scientists and researchers in the two countries to deepen analysis of the sub-lineages which have so far been identified in four people in Botswana and 23 in South Africa.

“Outside Africa, the BA.4 and BA.5 have been confirmed in Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom. Currently there is no significant epidemiological difference observed between the new sub-lineages and known sub-lineages of the Omicron variant which include BA.1, BA.2 and BA.3 sub-lineages,” the statement read in part.

WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said “There is no cause for alarm with the emergence of the new sub-variants. We are not yet observing a major spike in cases, hospitalizations or deaths.

We are working with scientists in Botswana and South Africa to gain complete behavioural knowledge of these Omicron sub-lineages and supporting African countries enhance genomic surveillance to detect potentially dangerous variants and stay ahead of the virus.”

WHO called on countries to enhance genomic surveillance to better understand circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants, submit complete genome sequences and associated metadata to a publicly available database and report initial cases or clusters of cases linked with a variant of concern to infection to WHO.

Read: COVID-19: Africa’s fourth wave flattening after six-week’s surge by Omicron says WHO

“Additionally, countries should undertake field investigations and laboratory assessments to improve understanding of the potential impacts of variants of concern on COVID-19 epidemiology such as severity, effectiveness of public health and social measures, diagnostic methods, immune responses, antibody neutralization or other relevant characteristics.

“The Organization also recommends that countries sequence at least 5% of all positive samples. With support from WHO and other partners, Africa has made strides in ramping up sequencing capacity, having sequenced six times as many samples in the first quarter of 2022 compared with the same period in 2021”, the statement further stated.


No African country is experiencing COVID-19 resurgence says WHO

Africa is experiencing its longest-running decline in COVID-19 infections since the onset of the pandemic, the World Health Organisation, (WHO) has revealed.

Read: Africa Experience Decline in COVID-19 Cases – WHO

A statement from the WHO showed that recorded weekly cases have fallen for the past 16 weeks, while deaths have dropped over the last eight weeks.

“Infections—largely due to the Omicron-driven fourth pandemic wave—have tanked from a peak of over 308 000 cases weekly at the start of the year to less than 20 000 in the week ending on 10 April 2022.

“Over the past week, around 18 000 cases and 239 deaths were recorded, a decline of 29% and 37% respectively compared with the week before. This low level of infection has not been seen since April 2020 in the early stages of the pandemic in Africa,” the statement read in part.

Read: WHO says scarcity, high cost, major impediments in accessing other COVID-19 treatment by African countries.

It was further explained that Africa’s previous longest decline in COVID-19 infections was between 1 August and 10 October 2021; and currently, no country is witnessing COVID-19 resurgence.

WHO considers that a country is in resurgence when it records a 20% increase in cases in at least two consecutive weeks and that the recorded week-on-week rise is 30% or higher than the highest weekly infection peak previously reached.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said “Despite the decreasing infections, it is crucial that countries remain vigilant and maintain surveillance measures, including genomic surveillance to swiftly detect circulating COVID-19 variants, enhance testing and scale up vaccination.

“With the virus still circulating, the risk of new and potentially more deadly variants emerging remains, and the pandemic control measures are pivotal to effective response to a surge in infections.”

The statement however, warned that with the cold season approaching in the southern hemisphere in June through August, there is a high risk of another wave of new infections; as Africa’s previous pandemic waves have often coincided with lower temperatures when people mostly stay indoors and often in poorly ventilated spaces.

“In addition, new variants can impact the evolution of the pandemic. In Botswana and South Africa, researchers are conducting further analysis into new sub-lineages of the Omicron variant recently detected there to determine whether they are more infectious or virulent. The BA.4 and BA.5 identified in the two southern African countries have also been confirmed in Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom.

“Currently there is no significant epidemiological difference observed between the new sub-lineages and known sub-lineages of the Omicron variant, which include BA.1, BA.2 and BA.3 sub-lineages”, the statement further read.

Read: COVID-19: Africa’s fourth wave flattening after six-week’s surge by Omicron says WHO

While observing the recent decisions by some African countries to ease off some protocols earlier put in place to check the spread of COVID-19, the WHO called for strategic risk assessment before embarking on easing of COVID-19 protocols by countries.

“With the receding infections, several African countries are easing key COVID-19 measures such as surveillance and quarantine as well as public health measures including mask-wearing and band on mass gatherings.

“Based on current WHO technical guidelines, the Organization urges countries to weigh the risks and benefits as they relax COVID-19 measures, taking into account the capacity of their health systems, population immunity to COVID-19 and national socioeconomic priorities. Systems should be in place to quickly reinstate the measures if the epidemiological situation worsens.”


U.S reassures Imo State of support in fight against COVID-19

The United States Government has reassured the Imo State government of its support in the fight against COVID-19.

The Chargé d’Affaires (CDA) of the U.S. Mission in Nigeria, Kathleen FitzGibbon, gave reassurance when she visited the State to observe the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination exercise supported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), through its implementing partner, the Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria, (CCFN).

A statement from the Embassy made available to our correspondent, the CDA FitzGibbon reiterated the need for all eligible persons to come out and receive their vaccinations which are being offered free of charge at the Headquarters of Owerri Municipal Council, the venue of the vaccination exercise.

She said doing so will not only keep the individuals safe but also protect their families and communities, as she encouraged the people of Imo State not to be complacent despite the seeming relaxation of COVID-19 prevention protocols around the world, especially in the face of several variants circulating and potentially new and emerging variants.

The Chargé applauded those who presented themselves to get vaccinated and urged them to encourage members of their families and communities to do the same, stressing that the sooner a significant percentage of the population is vaccinated against COVID-19, the sooner we can end the pandemic and return to normal.

Read: COVID-19: USAID, Global VAX Reveals Plans To Provide Additional $33.3 million Support for Nigeria

CDA FitzGibbon noted that the consistent and straightforward messaging in Imo State concerning COVID-19 vaccines is an excellent example of encouraging people to associate taking the vaccines with their personal and family wellbeing.

“A stakeholder meeting with Imo State Government officials, traditional rulers, religious leaders, development partners, and media executives, took place on the final day of the visit.

“During the meeting, the Chargé and Governor Hope Uzodinma appealed to traditional and religious leaders to lead by example by taking the vaccines and spreading the message that the vaccines are safe, effective, and available, so members of congregations and communities who were hesitant before can now come out and take the vaccines as well.

“During a question-and-answer interactive session, the State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Prosper Success, and the US-CDC Country Director, Dr. Mary Boyd, responded to issues around COVID-19 vaccines efficacy, safety, availability, and access in Imo State.

“They encouraged people with underlying conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, immunocompromised states, and respiratory illnesses to get vaccinated against COVID-19 because they are more vulnerable to getting a severe illness or even death from Coronavirus.”

The statement further emphasised that the U.S. government is at the forefront of supporting the Government of Nigeria’s COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, with approximately 25 million vaccine doses donated to date.

And in addition, US Government agencies and implementing partners are working with national and state governments to ensure access and uptake of the vaccines through advocacy, messaging, and technical and logistical support.


FG Receives Over 3 Million Doses Of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 Vaccines Donated By Italian Government.

The Nigerian Government has received additional  three million two thousand four hundred (3,002,400) doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines, donated by the Government of Italy .

Speaking at the official handing over ceremony in ABUJA, the Executive Director of The National Primary Health Care Development Agency ( NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib says the donation is in line with the global call for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, as the guesture will help to scale up vaccination in the country.
According to him, 13,588,718 persons have been fully vaccinated, which is approximately 12.2% of total eligible population, while 23,012,700 Nigerians have also received their first dose, representing 18% of the total eligible population.

READ: Nigeria receives additional covid-19 vaccines from Greece

He notes that the federal government is intensifying it’s support to all states to ramp up the vaccination 
He urges all eligible persons including pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers to take advantage of the availability of the vaccines, and get vaccinated, just as assures the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria 


COVID-19: Several Women in Africa not Accessing RMNCAEH+N Services – WHO

As the world marks International Women’s Day, new findings from the World Health Organisation (WHO), have shown that women’s health services are far from being fully restored, with 40% of African countries reporting disruptions to sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health services, indicating that disruptions to essential health services due to the COVID-19 pandemic are still being felt broadly.

According to the WHO Global Pulse Survey on Continuity of Essential Health Services during the COVID-19 pandemic carried out between November and December 2021, it was shown that the majority of the 36 African countries that provided full data reported up to 25% disruption of services. And the extent of the disruption is said to remain largely unchanged from the first quarter of 2021.

A statement from the WHO, another of its surveys in 11 African countries found that maternal deaths in health facilities in six of the 11 countries rose by 16% on average between February and May 2020 compared with the same period in 2019, with the figure dropping slightly in 2021 to 11%.

The statement further said the estimate is, however, likely to be far higher as maternal deaths tend to occur mostly at home rather than in health facilities, with data showing that facility-based births reduced in 45% of countries between November and December 2021 compared with the pre-pandemic period.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, was quoted as saying that “Two years on, the COVID-19 burden still weighs heavily on women. Africa’s mothers and daughters are struggling to access the health care they need. The pandemic’s disruptive force will be felt by women for many years to come. Countries must look beyond short-term measures to restore services to pre-pandemic levels and make major investments for stronger systems capable of withstanding health emergencies while ensuring continuity of key services.”

It was further explained that during the pandemic, women and girls are facing a rising risk of sexual violence due to lockdowns, economic uncertainties, decrease in access to key support and health services, and increase in stress in households. Globally, from the latest analysis done in 2021, WHO estimates that 245 million women and girls aged 15 years and above are subjected annually to sexual and/or physical violence perpetrated by an intimate partner.

It regretted however, that in Africa, due to the pandemic, services to women who have experienced sexual violence declined in 56% of countries between November and December 2021 compared with the period before the pandemic.

“The disruptions also affected the uptake of essential reproductive health supplies. Between June and September 2021 contraceptive use fell in 48% of countries, according to a rapid WHO survey in 21 African countries. Teenage pregnancies also rose in some countries.

“A 2021 report by the British Medical Journal found that adolescent secondary school girls who were out of school for six months due to the COVID-19 lockdown in Kenya were twice as likely to become pregnant and three times as likely to drop out of school compared with those graduating just prior to the pandemic. In South Africa, a study by the Medical Research Council in five provinces showed that teenage pregnancies have increased by 60% since the start of the pandemic.

“Beyond the health impacts, COVID-19 is also inflicting deep economic damage on women and girls. The pandemic is poised to push more women and girls into extreme poverty. Poverty rates rose from 11.7% in 2019 to 12.5% in 2021 and it may take until 2030 to revert to pre-pandemic levels, according to a report by the International Monetary Fund, the UN Development Programme and the UN Women” the statement read in part.

“Globally in 2021, 247 million women aged 15 and above were projected to live on less than US$ 1.90 per day due the economic impact of COVID-19, with an estimated 53% (132milion) of them from sub-Saharan Africa.

“The pandemic has also worsened existing gender inequities in key spheres of life and development. Even though women constitute 70% of the health and social workers in Africa and are on the frontlines of COVID-19 response, few of them are in top pandemic management positions, according to the UN Development Programme and the UN Women Global Gender Response Tracker.

“In the African region, 85% of national COVID-19 task forces are led by men and only 15% by women, and the overall participation by women is only 30%,” the statement further read.

vaccine supply

Vaccine supply to Africa is a priority for AstraZeneca.

AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical and biotechnology company, has stated its commitment to boosting and speeding vaccine supply to Africa through 2022 and beyond in order to assist governments in meeting their vaccination targets.

The organisation, in a statement on Tuesday, said, an estimated 70 million doses have reached sub-Saharan Africa, making the AstraZeneca vaccine one of the most used COVID-19 vaccines across the continent.

The statement read, “One year ago, the first doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine began to arrive in countries across the world through the COVAX initiative, as part of the largest global vaccine supply in history.

“On 24 February 2021, 600,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine were received by health authorities in Ghana. Within days, the Ivory Coast received 504,000 doses. Since then, more than 310 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine have been supplied through COVAX to 130 countries.”

The Country President for Africa, AstraZeneca, Barbara Nel, in the statement, said, “As part of our commitment to putting broad and equitable access at the heart of our pandemic response, AstraZeneca was proud to be the first global pharmaceutical company to join COVAX in 2020.

“Our strong partnerships with the Serum Institute of India, GAVI – the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organisation are vital to delivering on our commitment on vaccine supply to Africa with the COVID-19 vaccine at no profit. We commend the work being done by governments across the continent to increase immunisation coverage and protect their citizens from severe disease.

“The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has helped prevent 50 million COVID-19 cases and five million hospitalisations, helping save more than one million lives.”


Global VAX

COVID-19: USAID, Global VAX Reveals Plans To Provide Additional $33.3 million Support for Nigeria

The Assistant Administrator for Global Health at the United States Agency for International Development, (USAID), Dr. Atul Gawande has announced that the United States’ government will surge resources to Nigeria through the Initiative for Global Vaccine Access (Global VAX). The U.S. government effort aims to increaseCOVID-19 vaccination rates.

Global VAX augments the U.S. government’s international vaccine support in Nigeria; the U.S. is the largest donor to COVAX and already has supplied over 21.7 million doses to Nigeria as well as technical and logistical support. Since 2020, the United States has provided $143 million to support Nigeria’s COVID-19 response.

Dr. Gawande told the Abuja Ports to Arms Conference that, “the Nigerian government has shown its commitment to increasing the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, and we are proud to partner with it as the United States launches this important initiative to boost global vaccination rates.

“We are calling on other countries to engage further and contribute expertise and resources to identify and rapidly overcome vaccine access barriers experienced by communities around the world, especially in Africa.

“We are pleased to have a close partnership with the Government of Nigeria on the COVID-19 response,” said U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Mary Beth Leonard. “Given the progress Nigeria has made, and the potential to make significant, additional advancement, we are pleased to surge more resources to help rapidly increase vaccination rates.”

As part of Global VAX, USAID plans to provide an additional $33.3 million in Nigeria to support activities that may include bolstering cold chain supply and logistics, addressing vaccine confidence and demand, and increasing the accessibility of vaccination sites.

It was also revealed that Global VAX will support Nigeria’s existing vaccination plans, and will help get vaccines to people quickly, safely, and equitably.
This is part of an announcement made in December 2021, that the U.S. government would provide an additional $315 million for Global VAX, bringing the total U.S. government commitment to vaccine readiness and delivery to more than $1.7 billion.

Global VAX is a whole-of-U.S.-government effort to accelerate vaccine uptake toward the global goal to vaccinate 70 percent of the world population against COVID-19 in 2022.