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Unvaccinated people account for all new COVID-19 cases in Lagos

…44,351,940 doses expected from July end - NPHCDA

In the last five days of the third wave of COVID-19 resurgence in Nigeria, Lagos State, the epicentre of the pandemic, has seen detection of daily cases average 100. Sadly, 100 percent of those who make up these new cases are unvaccinated people, Akin Abayomi, Lagos commissioner for health, said on Thursday.

The state has admitted more people at the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH), Yaba, than it has over the last two months, Abayomi said during a town hall meeting of the South-West geopolitical zone on COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria.

The risk Nigeria runs without building vaccine-assured herd immunity among its population is getting amplified; a year after the pandemic hit the country.

Less than 1 percent of Nigerians and just 1 percent of Lagosians have received full vaccination under the first phase of vaccination that had mostly frontline health, security and selected sectors workers covered.

Read also: Powering healthcare – A Catalyst for economic development in Nigeria

“This is an indication that people are unvaccinated. We hope that Lagos will be prioritised because we have consistently been the epicentre of the pandemic. More than 70 percent of air traffic in Nigeria comes into Lagos first. We have seen the first, second and third waves before the rest of the country,” Abayomi said.

An inconsequential level of vaccination as this leaves the majority of Nigerians at risk of a virus that is evolving quickly into more dangerous variants.

The implication for Nigeria, despite not seeing the nature of havoc wrecked in India, is that the aged and many living with underlying illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular problems are highly vulnerable.

In May 2020, Osagie Ehanire, Nigeria’s minister of health, said 70 percent of COVID-19 deaths so far in Nigeria were due to pre-existing conditions.

A 2021 research on ‘Outcomes of COVID-19 patients with comorbidities in South-West Nigeria’ found that 22.5 percent or 492 COVID-19 patients suffered from at least one underlying condition.

The commonest diseases among them were hypertension (74.2%) and diabetes (30.3%).

“The mortality rate was 3.3 percent and a significantly higher proportion of patients with comorbidities died compared to those with none. The comorbidities that predicted death were hypertension, diabetes, renal disease, cancer and HIV,” the study found.

As of 2019, data from the International Diabetes Federation showed that 2.7 million Nigerians live with diabetes, the second-highest in Africa, after 4.6 million in South Africa. The World Health Organisation recorded 27,830 deaths in 2016 in Nigeria due to diabetes.

More than 76.2 million Nigerians suffer hypertension, according to the Nigeria Heart Foundation. Vaccination could build a wall of protection for many in these categories if they get it before it is too late.

However, a ray of hope seems in the offing as Faisal Shuaib, executive director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), said yesterday that Nigeria would receive a delivery of 44,351,940 doses of vaccines from the end of June till September.

The breakdown is 6,924,000 doses of Oxford AstraZeneca by the end of July or early August; 4,000,080 doses of Moderna in August, donated by the United States through COVAX; 3,577,860 of Pfizer, and 29,850,000 Johnson & Johnson by September end from the African Union.

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on Thursday added Moderna to the list of Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines approved for emergency use authorisation in Nigeria.

“In preparation for the arrival of these vaccines, the presidential steering committee is putting in place necessary logistics for storage, distribution, security and accountability for the range of vaccines expected. The Federal Government has procured 60 units of ultra-cold chain equipment with 37 deployed to all states and FCT,” Shuaib said.

Olorunimbe Mamoora, the minister of state for health, also gave hope to the vaccines expectations in a few weeks, but placed a caveat that since Nigeria does not produce vaccines it cannot hold absolute control over when it arrives.

According to Mamoora, apart from the dearth of vaccines, the debacle of vaccine hesitancy also needs to be nipped in the bud, with myths and rumours sift from facts.

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