By Ajuma Edwina Ameh
The Federal Government has alerted that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is “full of surprises” and dominant in the country, urging Nigerians to continue to take the non-pharmaceutical measures seriously.
Nigerians should also increase testing to determine their statuses, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has said.
Speaking at the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) media briefing in Abuja, Ehanire remarked: “The dreaded third wave of COVID-19 may appear to be leveling out because there has 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.
“Evidence so far, however, is that the Delta strain is already the 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 importation of COVID-19. Several cases have been indeed been identified by Rapid Diagnostic test and taken care of accordingly,” the minister also said.
Giving an update on vaccines, the Minister said the government had secured nearly 40 million doses of J&J vaccines.
According to Ehanire, all states have received doses of AstraZeneca, Moderna and J&J vaccines for the ongoing second phase of the vaccination across the country.
“The federal government has done due diligence to ensure vaccine quality and safety.
“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 per cent 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,” the health minister assured.
Meanwhile, the Executive-Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, has disclosed that 1,692,315 eligible persons had received two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in the six months it commenced the vaccination.
He said 4,052,756 eligible Nigerians had received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccines.
Shuaib said: “This is made up of 2,645,020 persons with the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine and 1,407,736 persons with first dose of moderna vaccine.
“A total of 1,692,315 eligible persons are fully vaccinated and we currently have a national average of 70.4 per cent utilisation of the 2,000,040 doses of modern vaccines we received.”
Giving an update on vaccination in states, the NPHCDA boss said the sub-national level of governments have been advised not to exceed their 50 per cent utilization rates for Moderna vaccines in order to reserve the second doses for all those already vaccinated.
“Majority of the states have reached this percentage and that priority has now shifted to administering AstraZeneca vaccine as first dose vaccine in all the states.”