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Access to COVID-19 vaccine by Nigeria, others dims

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FILE PHOTO: Small bottles labeled with a “Vaccine COVID-19” sticker and a medical syringe are seen in this illustration taken taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

• Virus poses threat to AfCTA, PTF raises importation fears
A recent study has revealed that low-income nations, including Nigeria, might lose access to COVID-19 vaccine.

Published by a global health innovation centre, Duke, the survey also showed that high-income countries and a few middle-income ones with manufacturing capacity have already purchased nearly 3.8 billion doses, with options for another five billion.

The implication being that these countries would vaccinate their entire population over and over before billions of people get attention in developing nations.

The research disclosed that medication for only 250 million people had been purchased so far by COVAX, an international effort involving both wealthy and poor countries, that promises equal access to COVID-19 therapies globally.

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According to statistics, several COVAX signatories, consisting the United Kingdom, European Union and Canada, were allegedly undermining the pact by negotiating “side deals” for large shipments at the expense of others.

Painfully, the analysis said not a single low-income country had struck a sustainable agreement to purchase vaccines.

Researchers noted that Ethiopia, Africa’s second largest country, is counting on COVAX for deliveries to cover 20 per cent of its population, with no means for additional doses.

Consequently, the investigation postulated that most people in low-income countries would need to wait till 2024 for vaccination if their developed counterparts sustained what it called “vaccinationalism.”

The lead researcher, Andrea Taylor, observed: “High-income countries are making deals with major vaccine developers who are in turn reserving the lion’s share of the world’s manufacturing capacity to meet those commitments.

“We are rapidly reaching the point where soon, even countries that have the finances to shop for vaccines will find out that there is no manufacturing capacity available to fill their needs.”

THIS came as ECOWAS Parliament raised the alarm that the virus and security issues were posing a huge threat to successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in West Africa, especially operations of business start-ups.

Benefits of the pact notwithstanding, the experts pointed out that there were visible impediments to smooth running of the initiative geared at encouraging unrestricted movement of people and goods on the continent.

Among the hiccups are terrorism and insecurity which force rise in cost of goods and services.

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Speaker of the Parliament, Sidie Mohammed Tunis, expressed the fears during the opening of the organisation’s weeklong meetings in Cotonou, Benin Republic.

The parliamentarians are in the West African country for their November 2 to 6, 2020 “Bureau of the Parliament” and “Delocalised parley of the Joint Committees on Administration, Finance and Budget; Macroeconomic Policies and Economic Research; Public Accounts; Trade, Customs and Free Movement.”

IN a related development, the Presidential Taskforce on (PTF) COVID-19 has alerted to the likely importation of the disease into Nigeria.

It deplored the non-commitment of arriving Nigerians to the mandatory in-country PCR test.

The taskforce’s chairman and Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, during body’s weekly briefing yesterday in Abuja, said available data indicated that only one out of three passengers was undergoing the examination. He put the non-compliance level at 65 per cent.

Resultantly, Mustapha said sanctions, including suspension of passports of defaulting individuals for a minimum of six months, would have to apply.

In his remarks, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said the ministry was on the verge of signing a memorandum of understanding with a first line indigenous pharmaceutical company to set up a modern vaccine production firm, and encourage local treatment.

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