Hope for sickle cell patients as ‘cure emerges’
• ‘Africa administered 680m doses of COVID-19 vaccines in one year’
• Local production of vaccines will increase Nigerians’ confidence, says NPHCDA boss
There is hope on the horizon for a cure for sickle cell anaemia as sickle cell patients in England have begun receiving the first new treatment for the blood disorder worth £1,000 (N775,000), in over 20 years.
The new treatment, Crizanlizumab, according to a report published yesterday in BBC, is given as a monthly infusion and is thought to cut visits to Accident and Emergency (A&E) by 40 per cent.
Ten specialist treatment centres have been set up across England, which doctors hope will improve outcomes for sickle cell patients.
Each vial of the drug costs £1,000 (N775,000) but British National Health Service (NHS), England, has negotiated a confidential discount and hopes to treat up to 5,000 patients over the next three years.
IN another development, one year since the COVAX Facility delivered the first COVID-19 vaccines to Africa, and two years after the first confirmed case, around 400 million doses have been administered – the region’s largest-ever vaccine rollout in a single year.
The WHO, yesterday, during a virtual press conference on COVID-19 and vaccination in Africa, said COVAX deliveries account for almost two-thirds of the more than 680 million doses delivered to Africa in the past year. The African Union’s Africa Vaccines Acquisition Trust has shipped about six per cent of the doses and bilateral deals account for the rest.
The WHO, however, said vaccination rates in the continent were the lowest in the world.
The New Vaccines Introduction Officer, WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr. Phionah Atuhebwe, moderated the virtual press conference.
Managing Director, Office of the COVAX Facility, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Aurélia Nguyen and Social and Behavioural Specialist, UNICEF Rwanda, Mr. Maksim Fazlitdinov, joined her.
MEANWHILE, the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, has said that the listing of Nigeria among the first six African countries to be supported with the technology for COVID-19 vaccine production by the World Health Organisation (WHO) will increase the confidence Nigerians have in vaccines.
According to Shuaib, the move is a strong platform to develop local vaccine production capacity.
Shuaib, who stated this after the inspection of the National Strategic Cold Store by GAVI High-level mission to Nigeria yesterday in Abuja, said there is no better news than the country having the opportunity to vaccinate her citizens using the locally-produced vaccine.