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Red Cross gets $350,000 to accelerate vaccination of Nigerians against COVID-19

By Chukwuma Muanya (Lagos) and Ernest Nzor (Abuja)
27 June 2022   |   4:20 am
The International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) and Red Crescent Societies has received $350,000 from Coca-Cola Foundation to boost COVID-19 vaccination in Bauchi, Bayelsa, Kogi, Ebonyi and Edo states.

[file] A man receives COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine during the flag-off of COVID-19 Mass Vaccination by the Nigerian government in Abuja, Nigeria. (Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP)

•Jabs prevented 20m deaths globally in first 12 months, study finds

The International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) and Red Crescent Societies has received $350,000 from Coca-Cola Foundation to boost COVID-19 vaccination in Bauchi, Bayelsa, Kogi, Ebonyi and Edo states.

This was consequent upon revelation by the Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRC) that it had created risk communications and community engagement campaign centres in the five states to accelerate immunisation.

NRC’s Secretary-General, Abubakar Kende, who spoke in Abuja, at the launch of the programme, with the theme: “StoptheSpread of COVID,” observed that pandemic was not yet over.

In her remarks, Coca-Cola’s Director of Public Affairs and Sustainability, Mrs. Amaka Onyemelukwe, pointed out that the foundation “is an old ally of the Nigerian Red Cross and even funded its fight against the then, newly emerging COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.”

Onyemelukwe said she looks forward to working with NRC in the future.

Also speaking, Operations Manager for IFRC, Hopewell Munyari, stated: “We are proud as a federation to assist the society in making sure that communities have access to information on the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

“Most of the COVID-19 protocols have been relaxed, but it doesn’t mean that the disease has gone or is not killing again.”

MEANWHILE, a mathematical modelling study, yesterday, found that vaccines reduced the potential global death toll during the pandemic by more than half in the year following their implementation.

Published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, the survey said in the first year of the vaccination programme, 19.8 million out of a potential 31.4 million COVID-19 deaths were prevented worldwide, according to estimates based on excess deaths from 185 countries and territories.

It estimated that a further 599,300 lives could have been saved if the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) target of vaccinating 40 per cent of the population in every country with two or more doses by the end of 2021 had been met.

Lead author, Dr. Oliver Watson, from Imperial College London, said: “Our findings offer the most complete assessment to date of the remarkable global impact that vaccination has had on the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the almost 20 million deaths estimated to have been prevented in the first year after vaccines were introduced, almost 7.5 million deaths were prevented in countries covered by the COVID-19 Vaccine Access initiative (COVAX).

This initiative was set up because it was clear early on that global vaccine equity would be the only way out of the pandemic. Our findings show that making vaccines available to people everywhere, regardless of their wealth, has likely saved millions of lives. However, more could have been done. If the targets set out by the WHO had been achieved, we estimate that roughly one in five of the estimated lives lost due to COVID-19 in low-income countries could have been prevented.”

Since the first vaccine was administered outside of a clinical trial setting on December 8, 2020, almost two thirds of the world’s population has received at least a dose (66 per cent). COVAX has facilitated access to affordable vaccines for low-income countries to reduce inequalities, with an initial target of giving two vaccine doses to 20 per cent of the population in nations covered by the commitment by the end of 2021.

WHO expanded the target by setting a global strategy to fully vaccinate 70 per cent of the world’s population by mid-2022. Despite the incredible speed of the vaccine rollout globally, more than 3.5 million COVID-19 deaths have been reported since the first jab was administered in December 2020.

Several studies have sought to estimate the impact of vaccination in the course of the pandemic. These investigations have focused on specific regions such as individual countries, states or cities. The latest study is the first to estimate the impact of vaccinations on a global scale and the first to assess the number of deaths averted both directly and indirectly.

The team found that, based on officially recorded COVID-19 deaths, an estimated 18.1 million deaths would have occurred during the study period if vaccinations had not been implemented. Of these, the model estimates that vaccination has prevented 14.4 million deaths, representing a global reduction of 79 per cent. These findings do not account for under-reporting of COVID-19 deaths, which is common in low-income countries.

The group did a further analysis based on total excess deaths during the same time period to account for this. They found that COVID-19 vaccinations prevented an estimated 19.8 million deaths out of a total of 31.4 million potential deaths that would have occurred without the exercise, a reduction of 63 per cent.

For the 83 countries included in the analysis that are covered by the COVAX commitment to affordable vaccines, an estimated 7.4 million deaths were averted out of a potential 17.9 million (41 per cent). However, failure to meet the COVAX target of fully vaccinating 20 per cent of the population in some countries is estimated to have resulted in an additional 156,900 deaths. Though this figure represents a small proportion of the total global deaths, these preventable deaths were concentrated in 31 African nations, where 132,700 deaths could have been averted if the target had been achieved.

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