March is ending on a good note. Startups raised funds in the tech sector, women were celebrated on International Women’s Day, Nigeria received Covid-19 vaccines as well as kickstarted the vaccination process and the infection curve appears to have been flattened.
584 people were infected with Covid-19 within the week according to stats from the Nigerian Center for Diseases Control (NCDC). Last week, 769 persons were detected while the number was 1,615 for the previous week. The numbers show a 24% decline from last week indicating a further drop in the rate of infections.
There are interesting new developments surrounding the virus this week. It includes the heightened concerns about fake vaccines, Alex Iwobi’s positive test result and others. Here is more about them.
Nigeria on alert as fake Covid-19 vaccines head to Africa from China
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) announced the discovery of fake covid-19 vaccines that have been sent into Africa from China. In a letter to the Ministry of Health, the PTF said it had gotten wind of thousands of doses of fake vaccines that have been sent from China.
The Director of the Department of Hospital Service, Federal Ministry of Health, Adebimpe Adebiyi, released a statement to address the issue. She said that vaccines will only come into the country through 1 point of entry which is the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
With only one entryway into the nation, it will be possible to prevent the importation of fake vaccines. Medical directors of federal tertiary health institutions have also been notified of the threat.
Minister insists N500 million was spent on feeding schoolchildren
In a move to oppose the Freedom of Information (FoI) suit filed against the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, the Ministry has filed a counter-affidavit at the court of law.
The suit aims to get a court order to force the ministry and its minister to release the full details of how much was spent on the feeding of schoolchildren and who the beneficiaries are.
The Minister, Sadiya Farouq, said in August 2020 that N523,273,800 was spent to feed pupils in Ogun and Lagos states as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, between May 14, and July 6, 2020. However, the counter-affidavit that was filed on her behalf reads, “the 1st respondent (the minister) spent N535,873,800 on 127,789 households as against the N523,273,800 on 124,589 households claimed by the applicant.”
The document also went on to state that about 5,000 cooks were hired for the feeding and 2,859 schools benefitted from it. It, however, failed to name the schools or the students that were the beneficiaries. Premium Times reports that at her last briefing, Sadiya Farouq said that it was “uncooked food” that was given to the pupils.
The suit was filed against the ministry by the Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International (KHRFI), a civil society group because it “suspected act of corruption in the school feeding spending”.
Alex Iwobi allegedly tests positive for covid-19
Nigerian footballer, Alex Iwobi, was alleged to have been infected with the covid-19 last week and was dropped from the African Cup of Nations qualifying game between the Super Eagles and Benin Republic’s team on Saturday. Iwobi had shown no symptoms of being infected.
After self-isolating, subsequent tests have cleared the Everton star and he joined the rest of the Super Eagles team in their next game against Lesotho’s Crocodiles. Sharing about his isolation experience, he said, “Thank you to my teammates, to the staff, the coach, they were always checking up on me and made sure that I was okay. I am ready to go for the last game, let’s see if we can stay unbeaten. Up Super Eagles!”
National Assembly to approve more funds for Covid-19 vaccine
The fight against Covid-19 is an expensive one and the National Assembly just announced its readiness to approve a supplementary budget that will allocate more funds to the federal government. The funds will be used to purchase vaccines and security equipment.
The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, said that both the legislative and executive arms of government are convinced that approving the supplementary budget is the right thing to do. He said, “We believe that we’ve not had enough, we still need to approve more resources for the purchase of weapons for our armed forces, because this is the number one priority of government or any government really, to secure the people, and of course later the welfare.”
“So we believe that we will be doing the right thing if there is a request through supplementary appropriation bill from the Presidency or Executive arm of government, and then we approve. Of course, we have to have a clear cut definition of how much is going for what, we’re not going to just give approval like that for a general thing. We want to see how the funds will be utilised. But it is mandatory that we provide more resources for our armed forces, and they’re doing well”.
India suspends export of Astrazeneca vaccine
After taking delivery of the first set of AstraZeneca vaccines from India, it appears the next set will be delayed because the country has banned the exportation of vaccines. The ban, which was announced by the Indian government, is temporal and is expected to be lifted by the end of April.
Since the AstraZeneca vaccine received approval, India’s Serum Institute started mass producing it under the brand name ‘Covishield’. The distribution has been equitable so far and most low-income countries including Nigeria have benefited from the production.
India, however, has deemed the ban necessary in order to make enough vaccine doses available for its citizens because of the rise in the rate of infection. The country is dealing with its third wave of the covid-19 pandemic and expects to be able to produce vaccines for other countries by May.
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