Nigeria will be creating a path to sustainable healthcare development as COVID-19 has become a long time challenging problem says the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire.
The Minister observed without any doubt, in the long run, people will have to live with COVID-19 and that there is the need to design a way to do so, stressing that the plan will vary from country to country, depending on their situation, strengths and weaknesses.
He said that the search for, and pathway to such sustainability will need to be thoroughly interrogated from all angles, and continuously reviewed to align with prevailing circumstances.
Ehanire gave this hint at a press conference of the Residential Steering Committee on COVID-19 on Monday in Abuja, saying, there can be no “one-size-fits-all” and countries need to seek the best of both safety and socio-economic normalization.
According to him, “The dreaded 3rd wave of Covid-19 may appear to be levelling out because there been no catastrophic increases in infections and fatalities. But it is not wise to assume that the threat is gone, especially as cases are fluctuating and have to be identified by genomic sequencing.
“The evidence so far, however, is that the Delta strain is already dominant in Nigeria. We must keep our protective measures in place and increase testing to determine our situation.
“There are reports of new coronavirus mutations circulating in other countries, a development we shall monitor with all tools available to us, to ensure we respond appropriately. We also remain on alert at Points of Entry, including land and sea borders, to confront the importation of Covid-19. Several cases have been indeed been identified by Rapid Diagnostic test and taken care of accordingly.
“Regarding vaccines, all States have received doses of AstraZeneca, Moderna and J&J vaccines for the ongoing 2nd phase of the vaccination exercise in all States. The Federal Government has done due diligence to ensure vaccine quality and safety. Available data shows that there have been no serious adverse effects so far, following vaccination so that confidence in vaccines we are using is upheld.
“We have a good mix and quantity of vaccines and do not envisage shortages, despite news reports that vaccines allocated to Africa will be reduced by 25% soon. We believe the reduction may be linked with increased demand in high-income countries many of whom have commenced 3rd booster doses of Covid-19 and or reduced vaccine eligibility age in their countries to 12 years or even less.
“This tells us that the vaccine is effective and that we should also accept it. The government has secured nearly 40 million doses of J&J vaccines to be arriving at a rate that NPHCDA will set, to align with their utilization strategy. We shall also surely receive donor doses so that we do not expect to be impacted by the expected shortfall.
“As of today, we have recorded a total of 199,151 confirmed cases of COVID- 19, 365 in the past 24hours, from 2,941,438 samples tested so far. We have also sadly altogether lost 2,598 persons, 8 in the past 24hrs, and a case fatality rate of 1.3%, a slight increase over the 1.2% of a few weeks ago. NCDC will give further details on this.
He, however, urged all citizens to avail themselves of the opportunity of the second phase of vaccine deployment, to be vaccinated. I also call on those who received their first dose to go for the second dose, when due, to optimize protection from infection.
Earlier, the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, said in order to end this pandemic, we must achieve enough level of population immunity, that the virus essentially becomes a nuisance and no longer a threat.
Saying, the only way to achieve this is if eligible persons come out for vaccination and observe the non-pharmaceutical interventions. The COVID-19 vaccines remain the most effective tool against this virus.
According to him, “With the increasing number of cases of COVID-19 globally, we are beginning to see countries instituting vaccine mandates. Some countries have begun asking workers to either present proof of vaccination or provide weekly COVID-19 PCR negative results in order to be allowed into public offices.
“A recent study by the United States Centre for Disease Control (USCDC) which examined 600,000 COVID-19 cases, revealed that people who were unvaccinated were about four and a half times more likely to contract COVID-19.
“It further showed that those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 were eleven times more likely to die of the disease and ten times more likely to be hospitalized with the disease.
“We should also be mindful of the long-term effects of COVID-19 infection, which is characterized by blood clotting disorders, lung and kidney problems.