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$1.5m clinical trial cost big challenge for local production of COVID-19 vaccines – FG




By Abdullahi Mohammed, Abuja
The federal government said Thursday that the $1.5 million cost of clinical trial remains a major challenge for the local production of COVID-19 vaccines in the country.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, at the ministerial media briefing organised by the Presidential Communication Team held at the State House in Abuja.

He said a Nigerian researcher has developed COVID-19 vaccine with a high probability to succeed but the cost of clinical trial has become an obstacle. He said the federal government is seeking alternative funding by reaching out to would-be sponsors to recoup their investment when the vaccine is successful. “There is no personal interest in this. There are at least two, perhaps even three, Nigerian laboratories that have developed what you call vaccine candidates.

 “In fact, yesterday, we also talked to a fourth Nigerian laboratory, based in Maryland, USA, he has also produced his own vaccine candidate.
“A vaccine candidate means that you have already been able to get the antigen, you have produced something that will work. “Now, you have to do what is called the clinical trials; clinical trial means you go through testing to show that it’s safe, it doesn’t cause a problem. Secondly, that it does what it promises to do; generate antibodies in your system. Okay.“So, you go through those clinical trials, which are very detailed and they are expensive.

 “One of our researchers here, who has produced such a candidate, I asked him, how much do you think you’ll need to go through these clinical trials; phase one, phase two, phase three, he said at least $1.5 million. “That’s a lot. Do we have that now to test a vaccine? “Well, we say we look for sources where we can get the sponsors, because the sponsorship is what you need. “What some people do is that they invest in it and then once you produce the vaccine it’s successful, they buy it and that means you are done. But if it turns out not to have worked, your money is gone.

“It’s hard to find a way to sponsor these clinical trials because the are expensive and they have a very good chance of being successful, but some of them also have a good chance of not being strong enough you know, the trick of efficacy. The efficacy means how well it works. “So, we want to support our own vaccine and do the necessary thing to make sure they come out, but we are looking for the funds to support and also the necessary technical and whatever other backings that are required to get them to a level where they can… not only shall we be proud, it will be cheaper for us, we can be able to export also,” he said.The minister also explained the delay in getting the supplementary budget ready for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines for Nigerians, saying government wants a clearer picture of the different prices of available vaccines before submitting a budget. 

“There are different prices of the vaccines and we don’t really know exactly the one we’re getting. And we also know that the ones we’re getting from COVAX is at no  cost to us. So what we’re doing is that the additional ones that we’re going to get will take care of 50 million  Nigerians, COVAX will take care of 20 million, they are even offering to take care of more than that, maybe up to 30 million.“The prices vary, some vaccines are in the neighborhood of $20 or $30, others are $5 or $6. So to really make a budget, we are working on rough sketch, some money have been earmarked. But Mr. President has also announced that there will be a supplementary budget. But we want to get a clearer picture first, before you actually submit a budget. 

“So, we only have rough figures and as soon as those figures are there we can continue. We are also looking for perhaps, as I said, if we have to make the the payments, we can find  some money to do that. But when that budget time comes, we need some  precise information,” he said.



‘Lagos COVID-19 related deaths hit 506’




By Oluwafunke Ishola 

The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, says the number of persons in the state that  died from COVID-19 related complications had increased to 506. 

Abayomi said this through his Facebook account @ProfAkinolaAbayomi on Sunday, while giving the state’s COVID-19 update for Aug. 20.

He said that 11 persons died from COVID-19 related complications on the reported day, increasing the state’s fatality figure from the virus to 506.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls  that deaths,  recorded between Aug. 1 to Aug. 20,  accounted for 122 out of the 506 total deaths recorded in the state, since the beginning of the pandemic. 

The 11 deaths recorded on Aug. 20,  represented  the second highest number of daily deaths recorded in the state, as the state had earlier recorded 13 deaths on Aug.10.

Abayomi disclosed that the state recorded 239 new COVID-19 infections,  out of the 2,750 tests conducted on Friday, bringing the state’s total infections to 70,563.

The commissioner also said 4,387 persons with active COVID-19 cases,  were receiving treatment under the state’s home-based care.

He added that 227 COVID-19 infected patients were being managed at the state’s isolation centres.

According to him, 60,716 of the infected persons had so far, recovered in communities, while 4,716 recovered in the state’s COVID-19 isolation centres.

The commissioner added that the total number of COVID-19 tests conducted in the state since the outbreak of the pandemic, stood at 662,826.

Earlier, Abayomi had said that the battle to defeat the pandemic was still on and Lagos was currently in a third wave of the pandemic.

He added that it was not certain,  if this would be the last wave, or whether there would be more waves or live with COVID-19 as a factor of life.  

“As we all know, Lagos state is currently running home-based care in the management of COVID-19 cases. 

“The state do not have enough bed spaces to isolate patients and this is not peculiar to Lagos state alone,” he said. 

He noted that the state was currently under stress in the management of the pandemic.

Abayomi said  there was a critical need to strike a balance, between managing a public health crisis and COVID – proofing the economy,  to ensure the state’s economy was active. (NAN)

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South Africa reports 14,728 new COVID-19 infections, 384 new deaths.




Citizens wait in the queue at Mitchell's Plain CHC to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on July 31, 2021 in Mitchell's Plain, South Africa.

Citizens wait in the queue at Mitchell’s Plain CHC to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on July 31, 2021 in Mitchell’s Plain, South Africa.

South Africa’s health ministry on Wednesday reported 14,728 daily new COVID-19 infections, taking the country’s total number of cases to 2,638,981.

The ministry also reported 384 deaths, taking the total number of virus-related fatalities to 78,377.

The country is the hardest-hit by the pandemic in Africa, accounting for 35.88 per cent of the continent’s caseload and 42.20 per cent of its fatalities.

Gauteng province has registered the highest number of cases and deaths, with 892,734 infections and 18,269 fatalities.

The Western Cape and Kwa Zulu Natal provinces are also hard hit, each having reported more than 400,000 COVID-19 cases.

The Western Cape Province has recorded 17,091 deaths while Kwa Zulu Natal has 12,768.

South Africa however boasts of a 91 percent recovery rate, as 2,402,020 patients successfully recovered from the disease. Active cases stood at 158,584.

The government is undertaking a nationwide vaccination campaign in efforts to contain further spread of the virus.

By Wednesday, 9,962,111 vaccines had been administered.


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COVID-19 3rd wave: Nigerian gov’t places FCT, Lagos, five others on red alert




By Goodluck Ikiebe.

The federal government of Nigeria has placed FCT, Lagos, Kaduna, and others states on red alert over COVID 19 3rd wave.

A statement was issued early Sunday morning and signed by the chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19,
Boss Mustapha.

The statement noted that the nation has, in the recent time, continued to witness “worrisome early signs of the third wave of the pandemic.”.

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