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He said: ‘”The agency has successfully withdrawn about 1,066,214 doses of expired AstraZeneca vaccine.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.
Lagos Assembly kicks against harassment of residents by police
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.
Omicron: Govts may shut down schools; 647m children yet to fully resume
THE World Bank has said that the new wave of COVID-19 pandemic that has seen a variant of the virus, Omicron, ravaging the world, may lead to governments across the globe being tempted to shut down schools again.
The World Bank has said this in a report titled: “Reversing the pandemic’s education losses”, recently released.
In the said report, the bank also said no fewer than 647 million school children are yet to fully resume for either physical or online learning.
It added that school children in developing nations are the hardest hit regarding the negative effects the pandemic has had on education globally.
“When schools around the world moved online due to COVID-19, children in developing countries suffered the most.
“Even though digital learning does not produce the same outcomes as in-person education, technology used effectively can close educational gaps and prevent learning loss.
“As the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic approaches, classrooms remain fully or partially closed for as many as 647 million schoolchildren around the world.
“Even where schools have reopened, many students continue to lag behind. It is now abundantly and painfully clear that children have learned less during the pandemic.”
According to World Bank estimates, pandemic-related school closures could drive up “learning poverty” – the share of 10-year-olds who cannot read a basic text – to around 70% in low- and middle-income countries.
This learning loss could cost an entire generation of schoolchildren $17 trillion in lifetime earnings.
“As the Omicron variant takes hold, more governments may be tempted to close schools. Without the online infrastructure in place to support learning, doing so would extend the educational losses and deny children many other benefits of daily school attendance, like the possibility to connect with classmates and develop social skills for personal growth.
“Interactions with teachers and peers are essential to develop the abilities necessary to work collaboratively. Being part of a class promotes a sense of belonging and helps build self-esteem and empathy.
“Throughout the pandemic, marginalised children have struggled the most. When classrooms around the world reopened this fall, it became clear that these children had fallen even further behind their peers.
“Before the pandemic, gender parity in education was improving. But school closures placed an estimated 10 million more girls at risk of early marriage, which practically guarantees the end of their schooling.
“Unless this regression is reversed, learning poverty and the associated human capital loss will hold economies and societies back for decades. Children must be given a chance to recover the education they have lost.
“They need access to well-designed reading materials, digital learning opportunities, and transformed education systems that help prepare them for future challenges. Well qualified teachers and effective use of technology are fundamental to this process.
“Many countries have deployed massive stimulus packages in response to the health crisis. But, as of June 2021, less than three per cent of these funds was devoted to the education and training sector.
“And most of these resources were spent in advanced economies. For many low-income countries, elevated debt-service payments crowd out essential social spending – including for education.
“The resulting weakness in investments to support education and training threatens to deepen the disparities in learning outcomes that existed prior to the pandemic.
“And while narrowing the education gap will require using resources more efficiently, the bottom line is that more resources are needed.
“For the world’s poorest countries, in particular, an acceleration in debt relief under the G20’s Common Framework, would provide fiscal space to increase support for human capital.
Investment in education must include funding for educational technology, taking into account what has worked well in different contexts around the world,” the report said.
The Bank called for improved investment in infrastructure to move education to the digital level and commended countries such as Uruguay and India for making giant strides in that direction.
“By investing in learning recovery and using technology wisely, it is possible to use the pandemic experience as a catalyst to improve education for all children.
“The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank Group are working together to ensure that all education systems use technology effectively to close gaps and help reverse learning losses.
“Embedding the use of technology within an overall strategy for ending learning poverty can help improve foundational skills, increase instructional time, and make the most efficient use of resources.
“This is particularly critical in low-income countries, where technology can provide teachers with the support they need quickly.
“Digital access can serve as a great equalizer. Resources must be invested wisely, taking into account countries’ electricity infrastructure, internet connectivity, digitally enabled devices for the most disadvantaged students, and data-management and implementation capacity.
“Without a carefully considered process to increase the use of technology, good intentions and well-designed policies will fail to achieve the recovery and acceleration of learning that developing countries need.
Access to quality education was uneven before the pandemic, and now it is even more so.
“By investing in learning recovery and using technology wisely, it is possible to use the pandemic experience as a catalyst to improve education for all children,” the report added
Police nabs notorious bandit, Maiyammata during kidnap attempt
Police Tactical Operatives in Zamfara arrested a notorious bandit popularly known as Maiyammata on Wednesday.
The wanted criminal, who hails from Mayasa village, was apprehended within Zurmi Local Government Area during a patrol.
Commissioner of Police, Ayuba Elkanah, said he was arrested while trying to kidnap passengers at Koliya.
Maiyammata, formerly of the Bello Turji gang, is now believed to be working for another wanted kingpin, Kachalla Sani-Black.
Sani-Black operates along Zurmi, Shinkafi and Birnin Magaji Local Government Areas.
“One AK-47 rifle, double magazines with three rounds of live ammunition and one Boxer motorcycle was recovered from him”, the CP told newsmen.
Elkanah added that efforts are on to catch Maiyammata’s partners before charges will be filed in court.
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