COVID-19 kills 1m persons in 2022 alone, says WHO

• FG warns virus now deadlier, urges more vaccination

World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed the world hitting the “tragic milestone” of one million COVID-19 deaths in 2022 and nearly 6.45 million deaths since the virus was first detected in China late 2019.

According to a report first published, yesterday, by Daily Mail UK, pandemic-tracking analysts said of the fatalities logged so far this year, the vast majority are in the United States (217,627), followed by Russia (72,556), Brazil (63,866) and India (45,786).

The United Kingdom records 27,251 deaths, although its numbers are believed to include anyone, who has died within a month of testing positive to the disease.

WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the world could not claim that it is “learning to live with COVID-19” when tens of thousands of deaths are still occurring – despite having “all the tools” – needed to prevent them.

Latest figures from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) indicate that the most populous black nation tested 5,441,162 persons (2.72 per cent of its 200 million population), confirmed 263,322 cases, hospitalised 2,921 people, discharged 257,253 others and recorded 3,148 deaths.

THIS is even as Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, at the weekend, warned that the virus was mutating, making it more dangerous and deadly. He noted that Nigeria had recorded impressive declining deaths due to ongoing vaccination.

Meanwhile, Nasarawa has emerged the overall best in COVID-19 vaccination nationwide, scoring 100 per cent, while Ebonyi clinched the prize for routine immunisation with 90 per cent coverage score.

Also, Lagos was announced the best performing state in the South West on routine immunisation, achieving 90 per cent tally as Ogun became best performing state in the region on vaccination.

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Speaking at the award ceremony to commemorate the 2022 African Vaccination Week in Abuja, Mustapha observed that overcoming the misconceptions on vaccination had been challenging over the years.

The Federal Government, he added, has had series of engagement with stakeholders and partners nationwide to disabuse minds of Nigerians and promote vaccine uptake.

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said Nigeria had been ranked among the high-performing countries in the world in terms of COVID-19 vaccine rollout due to its innovative strategies.

He said over 40 million eligible persons have been vaccinated against the disease, adding that the country still has a lot of work to do. He stated that the current 38 per cent fully vaccinated eligible population was insufficient.

IN a related development, Director General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, has pledged that vaccines produced in Nigeria, including those for COVID-19, will be of internationally acceptable standard.

Adeyeye, in a statement, yesterday, signed by Resident Media Consultant, NAFDAC, Sayo Akintola, made the pledge during an oversight visit to the agency’s facilities and COVID-19 laboratory projects in Lagos, at the weekend, by the House of Representatives Committee on COVID-19. She described the Federal Government’s huge spending on the fight against the pandemic as a wake-up call for the country.

The NAFDAC boss regretted that the health sector had been neglected over the years, stating: “If the regulatory agency is not strengthened, the industry will not be strengthened.”

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He continued: “We have the African Continental Free Trade Agreement already here with us now for the nation’s pharmaceutical industry to take advantage of via quality products.”

“There will be a lot of competition and if NAFDAC’s laboratory is not strengthened, we will not be able to compete.

“For vaccines, we are hoping that the facilities from the public-private partnership will soon happen,” warning: “but if the regulatory agency is not strong, we can make vaccine that will destroy our own people.”

With NAFDAC now very strong following the World Health Organisation (WHO) Maturity Level 3 certification, Adeyeye expressed the hope that, “Nigeria can now make her own vaccines and assure the populace that there is quality in whatever is being manufactured because of NAFDAC’s strength.”

She commended the COVID-19 panel and the Healthcare Services Committee of the Ninth Assembly for making the agency more visible internationally.

In his remarks, Chairman of the House Committee on COVID-19, Dr. Haruna Mshelia, lauded the DG NAFDAC and her management team for leveraging latest technology to make the agency the best in Africa.

He went on: “We have also seen the equipment awaiting to be installed in the laboratories. I have to say kudos to the DG and her team for getting good value for money as far as COVID-19 funds for NAFDAC are concerned. Other agencies should come to NAFDAC and learn how they have leveraged ICT to move their organisation forward so that everywhere, our standard can be uplifted, with everyone seeing it.”

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