As Nigeria continues to grapple with rising cases of COVID-19 Delta variant, the federal government has ruled out the possibility of any total lockdown of the country due to the upsurge of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 disease.
Minister of health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, disclosed this to State House correspondents after the ministerial briefing organised by the presidential communication team.
According to him, the experience from the previous lockdown across the world have shown the devastating consequences of total lockdowns.
He said that from past experiences, countries across the world are opting for precision lockdowns to pinpoint specific locations where there is an upsurge in COVID-19 cases.
He said, “Now, lockdown is a very, very last measure that countries are taking because our lockdown stifles economic activity, restricts your own freedom and your business – both corporate business, government business, private business; all are affected.
“Of course, when we were compelled to have that lockdown at the beginning, we learnt a lot of lessons. You know, at that time the government provided palliatives to ease the impact of it – you couldn’t go to market; you couldn’t do your business.
“But this is not what the government is aiming to do; no government wants to do a lockdown. In countries where they have had serious threats, they have had to do what they call precision lockdown, like in the UK. In fact, Israel the other day announced that they’re doing some lockdown, but there’s no more generalised lockdown.
“So many countries do what they call precision lockdown, so it is not everybody that will be affected – only certain areas, to avoid too much damage to the economy, to social life. And we are not at the level yet where we are feeling that threat to do any lockdown.
“If my recollection is correct, at least six or seven countries are doing one form of lockdown or the other. We do not have that on the table right now.”
Speaking on efforts to roll back the disease, the minister said Nigeria aims to get about 40 million doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccine, disclosing that, so far, the government had acquired about 29,850 million doses of the vaccine at a cost of $10 per dose.
The minister, who disclosed that the price of the J&J vaccine had been reviewed downward from $10 to $7.50, added that the funding and procurement of the vaccines is being executed by Afroexim Bank with headquarters in Cairo, Abuja.
The director-general, National Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, said the postponement of the commencement in the administration of the Mordena vaccine for Covid-19 was due to inadequate information on bar coding on the vaccine and not as a result of its efficacy.
She added that bar coding on the drug would aid drug administrators in monitoring fake vaccines in circulation, even as emphasized that Nigeria became the first country globally to adopt bar coding and Geographic Information System (GIS) to track vaccine distribution and monitoring.
In his own contribution, the executive secretary, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHDC), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said that Nigeria had so far vaccinated about 2.3% of its eligible population since the kick-off of vaccination in the country in March 2021.
Shuaib said the government targets the vaccination of about 70% of the eligible population in two years from the time the vaccination kicked off, adding that the projection of the government is to have about 120 million of its citizens vaccinated under the programme.
Shuaib allayed the fears of Nigerians who have taken the first dose of the Astrazeneca vaccine stressing that the government was expecting 3.9 million doses of the vaccine before the end of August this year to facilitate the completion of the second dose of the vaccine.
The NPHCDA boss added that the second dose of the vaccine is available to be administered to those so far vaccinated before the expiration of their first dose.
WHO Warns Against Discontinuing Public Health, Social Measures
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned against discontinuing public health and social measures, saying Africa is still on the throes of its third wave.
WHO country representative, Dr. Kazadi Walter, gave the warning yesterday during the ceremony to acknowledge the arrival of Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccines, in Abuja.
He said, “This pandemic still has a long way to run: Nigeria is experiencing a third wave and we need to work together to ensure that all preventive measures put in place are maximised to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our lives.”
Nigeria on Wednesday received 177,600 doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccine through the COVAX arrangement.
Kazadi reiterated that vaccines are a critical tool in the battle against COVID-19, saying these vaccines are safe and effective and will be the game changer.
“But for the foreseeable future, we must continue wearing masks, physically maintaing distance and avoiding crowds,” he stressed.
He further noted the J&J/Janssen vaccine was listed for emergency use by WHO on March 12, 2021, adding that the vaccine has been authorised for use in Europe, the United States and other countries.
As the only single dose COVID-19 vaccine approved for use to date, the vaccine may be an important tool for accessing hard-to-reach populations, thus playing a key role in preventing infections and reducing deaths across Nigeria, he said.
Kazadi expressed WHO’s continued support for Nigeria in reaching its targeted population with safe and effective vaccines.
Meanwhile, in line with the federal government’s directive that all COVID-19 Isolation Centres across the country should be activated, state governments have begun to put measures in place in anticipation of a possible spike in infection.
The states that have taken steps to reactive their response mechanisms in order to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, are Lagos; Bauchi; Ekiti; Akwa Ibom; Edo; Kaduna; Rivers; Ogun; Oyo; Ondo; Taraba among others.
FG Takes Delivery Of 177,600 Doses Of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine
The federal government has taken delivery of 177,600 doses of Johnson and Johnson COVID 19 vaccines.
Inspecting the shipment at the National Strategic Cold Store in Abuja yesterday, the executive director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said the 177,600 doses were part of the 29,850,000 doses that the federal government procured through the AVAT of the AU Commission through the facility provided by African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK).
He noted that the country was among the first ten African countries to receive the vaccines shipment through the partnership.
“The balance of the vaccine will subsequently be delivered in monthly tranches.
“This batch of J&J vaccine will be focused on those who are in the hard-to-reach areas (riverine areas, desert areas and security-compromised areas, the elderly and frail individuals across the country.
“This is because the J&J vaccine is administered as a single dose vaccine, unlike the AstraZeneca and Moderna that require two doses for complete vaccination,” Shuaib said.