By Patience Ivie Ihejirika and Tarkaa David |
Nigerian doctors have insisted that even though the result of the Pfizer vaccine trial came out with 94.5 per cent efficacy, suggesting it is safe for use, it must undergo another clinical trial for it to be used in Nigeria.
President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Prof Innocent Ujah, who stated this at a press briefing in Abuja yesterday, said the clinical trial was necessary because the biology, environment and genetics of Nigerians are different from people from other climes.
“Therefore, it must be subjected to another clinical trial on Nigerians so that we can appropriately document its efficacy and safety on Nigerians. It doesn’t matter if it is 100 percent efficacious in the US and Europe,” he stated.
Prof Ujah regretted that many Nigerians had not been complying with the COVID-19 safety protocols, even as a lot of them don’t even believe that the disease exists.
The association appealed to all Nigerians to take the COVID -19 advisories very seriously in order to interrupt the transmission, reduce ill-health from the dreaded disease, while urging the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to sensitise Nigerians in various languages using town criers.
On the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) intervention fund raised to help the health facilities overcome the challenges brought by the pandemic, Prof Ujah said, “I am not aware of any doctor that has accessed the fund, even when they have met all the stringent conditionality, we are appealing to the government to prevail on the CBN to ensure that this money is released otherwise it makes no sense.
“But if the money has been released, we will be surprised because those who are to get this fund have not gotten them. We intend to visit the CBN governor to have an interface with him. Maybe, he is not aware that our members have not accessed the fund and we all know that we have worsening health situation in Nigeria as exposed by COVID-19 and if there is an intervention fund, it ought not to have been delayed so long the conditions are met.”
The NMA president also frowned at what he described as incessant spate of emigration of highly trained Nigerian doctors and other health care professionals in search of greener pastures at a time when their services are critically needed in the country.
He tasked government on more deliberate and strategic efforts towards ensuring the return of Nigerian doctors and their health professionals in diaspora to contribute their quota to the improvement of health care delivery services as well as national growth and development.
26 Army Generals Test Positive
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has confirmed that at least 26 participants at the Chief of Army Staff Annual Conference 2020 have tested positive to COVID-19.
This is just as it insisted that Major Gen. J. O. Irefin died due to complications from COVID-19.
The acting director, Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Sagir Musa said the conference which started on 7th December, 2020 with the virtual commissioning of the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command’s Headquarters at Giri by President Muhammadu Buhari and other proceedings was suddenly cancelled following the death of Major Gen Irefin who was one of the attendees.
The director explained that on the first day, at about 9pm, having complained of fever, headache and mild cough, late Major Gen Irefin the erstwhile GOC 6 Division, PortHarcourt, was taken to Defence Medical Centre, Abuja.
He stated: “His medical history revealed that he was treated for malaria with parenteral artemether a week ago at 6 Division Medical Services and Hospital in Port Harcourt Barracks.
“On Wednesday 8 December, 2020, his sample for COVID 19 was taken and he was directed to self-isolate pending the outcome of the test. On the same day, the result of his COVID-19 test was confirmed positive and was taken to Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital, Abuja for further management. Sadly, he passed on at about 0510 hours on Thursday, 10th of December, 2020. “The cause of his death was reported as respiratory failure secondary to the complications of COVID-19 infection. On the confirmation that Gen Irefin’s COVID-19 test was positive on 9 December 2020, the Chief of Army Staff directed the immediate suspension of the conference and all the participants were directed to move into self-isolation in line with FGN protocols on COVID-19 pandemic.
“Equally, comprehensive testing of all participants commenced immediately. Consequently, as at Sunday, the 13th of December 2020, a total of 417 personnel have so far been tested with 26 confirmed positive cases.
“Currently, all participants are in self-isolation irrespective of their results while Nigeria Centre for Disease Control recommended COVID-19 treatment drugs were immediately issued to those that tested positive.
“Accordingly, all officers and soldiers working at the Army Headquarters are being tested and COVID-19 protocols being strictly enforced across all units and formations of the NA. Meanwhile, the entire Army Headquarters complex was thoroughly fumigated on Saturday 12 December, 2020”.
Brig Gen Sagir further said despite the discomfort, he was at Phase 2 in Life Camp for the commissioning of Housing Scheme for families of officers of the Nigerian Army.
“This explanation is essential in order to ward off mischievous and wicked insinuations from certain quarters alluding unwholesome act as responsible for the death of the respected senior officer. The NA wishes to once again console and extend its condolences to the family he left behind,” he noted.
Nurse Gets New York’s First Dose As US Begins Rollout Of Vaccine
Meanwhile, New York yesterday inoculated its first healthcare worker, an intensive care unit nurse in Queens, with the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, marking a pivotal turn in the US effort to control the deadly virus.
“It didn’t feel any different from taking any other vaccine. I feel hopeful today, relieved. I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history. I want to instill public confidence that the vaccine is safe,” Lindsay said.
Minutes after Lindsay’s injection, President Donald Trump sent a tweet: “First Vaccine Administered. Congratulations USA! Congratulations WORLD!”
Northwell Health, the largest health system in New York, operates some of the select hospitals in the United States that were administering the country’s first inoculations of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine outside trials yesterday.
The vaccine, developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, won emergency-use approval from federal regulators on Friday after it was found to be 95% effective in preventing illness in a large clinical trial.
The first 2.9million doses began to be shipped to distribution centers around the country on Sunday just 11 months after the United States documented its first COVID-19 infections.
As of yesterday, the United States had registered 16,286,343 cases and 299,489 deaths from the virus.
Hospitals in Texas, Utah and Minnesota said they also anticipated receiving their first doses of the vaccine at select hospitals on Monday, to be administered right away.
The first US shipments of coronavirus vaccine departed from Pfizer’s facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Sunday, packed into trucks with dry-ice to maintain the necessary sub-Arctic temperatures, and then were transported to UPS and FedEx planes waiting at air fields in Lansing and Grand Rapids, kicking off a national immunization endeavor of unprecedented complexity.
The jets delivered the shipments to UPS and FedEx cargo hubs in Louisville and Memphis, respectively, from where they were loaded onto planes and trucks to be distributed to the first 145 of 636 vaccine-staging areas across the country. Second and third waves of vaccine shipments were due to go out to the remaining sites on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“This is the most difficult vaccine rollout in history. There will be hiccups undoubtedly but we’ve done everything from a federal level and working with partners to make it go as smoothly as possible. Please be patient with us,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams told Fox News on Monday, adding that he would get the shot as soon as he can.
The logistical effort is further complicated by the need to transport and store the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at minus 70 Celsius (minus 94 Fahrenheit), requiring enormous quantities of dry ice or specialized ultra-cold freezers.
Workers clapped and whistled as the first boxes were loaded onto trucks at the Pfizer factory on Sunday.
“We know we’re all suffering, our families are suffering. We’re going into the Christmas holiday with shutdowns and people are going to be very impacted by this pandemic. We know how much people are hurting,” UPS Healthcare President Wes Wheeler said on Sunday from the company’s command center in Louisville, Kentucky
Healthcare workers and elderly residents of long-term care homes will be first in line to get the inoculations of a two-dose regimen given about three weeks apart.