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Nigeria destroys 1,066,214 expired AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines

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The Nigerian government on Wednesday made good its promise to destroy expired COVID-19 vaccines as AstraZeneca injections totalling 1,066,214 doses were destroyed.

Addressing journalists shortly before setting out to destroy the vaccines at the Idu Dump site in the Federal Capital Territory, the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) Dr. Faisal Shuaib said notwithstanding the destruction of the vaccines, the country was able to save about $40 million by accepting the donated short shelf-live vaccines from donor countries.

He said the government took the action to destroy the expired vaccines not only to safeguard the health of Nigerians, but to also engender trust in the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

Shuaib said there were about two million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines that were due for expiration last month, but that the agency was able to utilise over 60 per cent of the supplies before the expiry date.

He said: ‘”The agency has successfully withdrawn about 1,066,214 doses of expired AstraZeneca vaccine. The vaccines have been deposited by the Abuja Environmental Protection Agency (AEPA). We have come through on our promise to Nigerians to be transparent in our delivery of vaccines.

“These vaccines did not expire before we took the decision to withdraw them, today is an opportunity for Nigerians to have further faith in our vaccination programme because we have lived up to the expectations of all Nigerians, we had the option of taking the advice of some experts to use these vaccines even beyond the labeled expiry date, but working together with NAFDAC, we took the decision to destroy them at the point they got expired.”

Shuaib said that the move was to further demonstrate the high standards that the agency operate within Nigeria.

“This work that we do is a work that requires trust, it is a sacred trust that has been bestowed on us by the generality of Nigerians. We hold that trust to be true and we guard that trust very jealously.

“This is why today we are destroying these vaccines that have expired. The heroes of today’s activities is actually the frontline health workers.

“A few months ago when these vaccines were offered to us, we knew that they had short shelve life, but we are living in an environment that supply of COVID-19 vaccine were very scarce. They were not available due to vaccine nationalism, we had developed countries that procured this vaccines and hoarded them in their stores and at the point they were about to expire, they offered them for donations, while we appreciate the donations by these countries, we have to acknowledge the fact that they were almost expired vaccines.

“Because we wanted to satisfy and protect Nigerians, we offered to accept these vaccines, worked collaboratively with NAFDAC to ensure that the agency tested and made sure that these vaccines were in good condition and we rolled out under very difficult circumstances, we got our health care workers working night and day, staff of NPHCDA worked round the clock under extreme situations just to make sure that Nigerians have access to vaccines even when these vaccines were not available,” he said.

The NPHCDA boss also gave an update on the vaccination exercise, saying the agency have been able to vaccinate over 10 million Nigerians with the short shelf life vaccines. According to him, if the country were to wait until much later when vaccines would be widely available, may be it would not have gotten any Nigerian vaccinated.

“We still have short shelf life vaccines in the country and they are still potent, they have not reached their end of use date. We have saved Nigeria over $40 million, resources that can be ploughed into other areas of the health sector.

“We will continue to encourage our health workers and continue to work with them until we are able to vaccinate at least 70 percent of our eligible population and achieve herd immunity.

“We guarantee Nigerians that these vaccines are safe, effective and can protect Nigerians against severe form of COVID-19 and also protect against death from Covid-19. The only people that are mostly dying from COVID-19 are people who are unvaccinated, very few people that are vaccinated,” he said.

On her part, the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojishola Adeyeye said the agency was discharging its function by ensuring that expired vaccines and any other unwholesome medicine were destroyed and put out of circulation.

She explained that the vaccines destroyed yesterday were very good and potent only that they have reached their expiry date.

“Nigerians deserve the best in terms of the quality of medicines and vaccines. That was the basis of the meeting between NPHCDA and NAFDAC. When NAFDAC approves a vaccine meaning what you have seen on paper, inform of a dosage like a package of the vaccine. When we approve we wait for the vaccine to come,” she said.

Adeyeye explained that the usually life span of the vaccines as they arrive Nigeria was eight to nine months.

According to her because the country does not manufacture the vaccines before they are brought into the country, they would have only about eight months life span remaining.

She said NAFDAC keeps strictly to its core mandate by ensuring that vaccines are properly tested before usage, adding that the agency was one of the few in Africa that tests vaccines before their usage.

Adeyeye described the destruction of the expired vaccine as a means of quality control, saying it marked the end of the journey for a product.

The NAFDAC boss used the opportunity to reassure Nigerians of the hope of revamping the country’s capacity to manufacture vaccines locally in the next one year.

The highlight of the ceremony was the display of the truck load of the expired vaccines which were eventually crushed and poured into a ditch before being buried with sand.

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Google set to invest $9.5bn in US

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Google has announced plans to invest $9.5bn in its US offices and data centers around the country in 2022, up from more than the $7bn it spent in 2021.

According to CNN, the big bet on office space was coming at a point Google was embracing a hybrid work model. The Alphabet-owned company has called for many of its employees to work in an office three days a week after two years of being fully remote.

The Chief Executive Officer of Alphabet and Google, Sundar Pichai, said, “It might seem counterintuitive to step up our investment in physical offices even as we embrace more flexibility in how we work.

“Yet we believe it’s more important than ever to invest in our campuses and that doing so will make for better products, a greater quality of life for our employees, and stronger communities.”
Google said it would open an office in Atlanta this year and continue to develop and expand office space in Austin and New York. It added that it planned to continue investing in data centers in Iowa, Nebraska, and Tennessee, among other states.

As part of the announcement, Google said it expected to create at least 12,000 new full-time jobs at the company this year.

Google and other tech companies were among the first businesses to shift to remote work when the pandemic hit in early 2020. But that shift always appeared to be temporary. Like others in Silicon Valley, Google had previously invested billions in expansive campuses and lavish office benefits for workers.

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European markets pull back amid doubts over latest Russian pledges over Ukraine

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European stocks retreated on Wednesday following the latest round of talks between Russia and Ukraine, aimed at finding a solution to the conflict.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 0.8% in early trade, with autos shedding 1.9% to lead losses, while oil and gas stocks gained 1.7%.

In terms of individual share price movement, Finland’s Nokian Tyres fell 6.6%, while Sweden’s Lundin Energy added 4.7%.

Investor sentiment was boosted on Tuesday following negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian officials in Turkey, at which Russia’s deputy defense minister claimed Moscow had decided to “drastically” cut back its military activity near Ukraine’s capital.

Alexander Fomin, who spoke following the talks in Istanbul, said Russia would slow its military operations near Kyiv and Chernihiv in order for peace talks to progress. Russia previously claimed that it would reduce military operations in other parts of Ukraine but then continued its advance.

Growing hope for a cease-fire appeared to boost investor sentiment Tuesday, as Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 200 points, or 0.6%. S&P 500 futures also climbed 0.6%, while Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 0.7%. Meanwhile, the price of U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil, which spiked on the heels of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, fell more than 4% to $100 per barrel.

Doubts have set in over the pledge, however, and while the Russian military has begun moving some of its troops in Ukraine away from areas around Kyiv to positions elsewhere in Ukraine, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby warned the troop movements do not amount to a retreat.

Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Wednesday trade as investors watch for developments surrounding the war in Ukraine. Stateside, traders are keeping tabs on a slew of key economic reports, while also monitoring the Federal Reserve’s planned interest rate hikes.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey on Tuesday showed 11.3 million job openings, higher than the 11.1 million expected. The ADP will also release its private payrolls data ahead of the closely watched monthly jobs report, on Friday.

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Lagos Assembly kicks against harassment of residents by police

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Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, yesterday, cautioned police in the state against harassment, intimidation and extortion of residents.

Obasa said this on the floor of the House when lawmakers honoured outgoing Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, who has been promoted to Assistant Inspector-General, and is due to retire in January 2022.

Obasa said Odumosu was honoured as the first Commissioner of Police in the state to stand before the lawmakers and address Lagosians on his experience policing the state.

The Speaker thanked Odumosu for his openness and responsiveness to issues affecting the peace of the state.

“It is important to call on those behind you to know that the relationship between the police and the people need to be constantly improved upon,” Obasa said, adding that men of the Nigeria Police Force need to build more trust among the people.

“Everybody must be treated with respect, dignity and honour. And that is how we can earn respect. Policing should not be about harassment and extortion but building trust among the people and making them comfortable,” Obasa said.

The Commissioner of Police, who led a team of officers to the House, thanked the lawmakers for their support. According to him, nothing could have been achieved in terms of security and peace in the state without assistance of the House.

He said he would remain grateful to Lagosians for making it possible for him and his team to effectively manage the security of the state.

Odumosu, who described Lagos as ‘mini-Nigeria’, said proactivity of the Assembly led to the creation of laws that helped the police remain successful in the state.

He said the Cultism Prohibition Law also helped to reduce illegal associations in tertiary institutions in the state and enlightened property owners and residents.

“We promise to continue to excel in providing watertight security for people of the state,” he told the lawmakers. He also promised he would encourage his successor to sustain the relationship between the police and the House, while urging the lawmakers to extend their support to his successor.

“Policing Lagos is not a tea party. Without the laws in Lagos, it would have been difficult to police the state. Don’t get tired, don’t relent in making laws that would make Lagos maintain its place as the most peaceful state in Nigeria,” he said.

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