Friday, July 23, 2021

COVID-19: ‘Vaccines scarcity exposes more people to virus’

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A Virologist, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, says that the scarcity of the COVID-19 vaccines across African countries is an indication that more people will be dangerously exposed to the virus.

Mr Tomori, also the Chairman, Ministerial Expert Advisory Committee on COVID-19, made the assertion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday in Lagos.

NAN reports that the World Health Organisation, WHO, in a recent virtual news conference announced the scarcity of COVID-19 vaccine.

This is as 47 of Africa’s 54 countries are likely to miss the September 2021 target of vaccinating 10 per cent of their population.

The virologist said that few number of Nigerians have been vaccinated and that if the available doses got exhausted, many people would be susceptible to COVID-19.

According to him, the four million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines received by the country will likely finish by the end of June or early July 2021.

“So, if it finishes and no vaccines have come in; it means the country will be at higher risk for COVID-19 and more people will be dangerously exposed to the virus.

“And so long as people (including citizens) are coming into the country from other foreign countries, the COVID-19 disease will continue to be contracted and spread in Nigeria.

“This is because the disease is still very much present in many countries of the world,” Mr Tomori said.

Also speaking, a General Physician, Dr Patrick Omogbohun urged the Federal Government to intensify more efforts to purchase and secure enough vaccines for its citizens.

According to him, this is  to save the country from the looming third wave of COVID-19.

Omogbohun, Medical Director, MercyWay Medical Centre Ejigbo, Lagos, urged the government to do everything possible to contain further spread of virus by ensuring that greater percentage of the population were vaccinated.

He said that Nigeria waited too late before bargaining and requesting for the COVID-19 vaccine and that contributed to the limited number of vaccine doses the country received.

He noted that ignorance and lack of access to the right information contributed to the low embrace of the COVID-19 vaccination.

Consequently, he called for increased awareness campaigns on the benefits of the vaccine.

“COVID-19 is a global disease; it is real, it kills no doubts and the only solution to it is vaccination,” Omogbohun said.

NAN reports thatDr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, said the new global target was announced recently at the World Health Assembly, the world’s highest health policy-setting body.

According to her, at today’s pace only seven African countries were set to meet it.

This means that nearly 90 per cent of the countries in Africa may miss vaccinating their population by the set target time.

She had said that at 32 million doses, Africa accounts for less than one per cent of the over 2.1 billion doses administered globally.

She said that just two per cent of the continent’s nearly 1.3 billion people had received one dose and only 9.4 million Africans were fully vaccinated.

She added that as COVID-19 cases in Africa rises week-on-week and vaccines increasingly scarce, so countries that can, must urgently share COVID-19 vaccines.

NAN

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