By Omeiza Ajayi –Abuja
The World Health Organization (WHO) said there are about 89 vaccines currently being developed across the world against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), even as Nigeria has indicated interest to join the organization’s “solidarity trial”, an international clinical trial to help find a cure for the disease.
Of the 89 vaccines in development, the WHO said seven are currently undergoing clinical evaluation while several of them are on clinical trials.
This came as Federal Government said Nigerians may have to learn to live with the Covid-19 until there is a vaccine to halt its spread.
Government also asked the organized labour to develop new strategies for work place operations at the end of the current outbreak of the pandemic.
These were part of the disclosures at Friday’s briefing of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 in Abuja. Vaccines in development WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr Fiona Braka who spoke of the rigorous processes involved in approving a vaccine for any disease said 89 vaccines are currently in development globally. She said; “on the subject of vaccines and clinical trials for Covid-19, I will like to say that research and development is an important aspect of the response and researchers around the world are working hard on accelerating the development of vaccines and therapeutics for Covid-19. WHO has launched various working groups to accelerate various aspects of vaccine development.
“Together with global health actors and partners, over the past week, WHO launched the Access to Covid-19 Tools ACT Accelerator, a global collaboration to accelerate development for equitable access to new Covid-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.
“We have a total of 89 vaccines that are in development globally, including seven in clinical evaluation and several therapeutics are in clinical trials. WHO is committed to ensuring that as medicines and vaccines are developed, they are shared equitably with all countries and people.
We do have the solidarity trial which is an international clinical trial to help find an effective treatment for Covid-19, launched by the WHO and partners. More than 100 countries have joined the solidarity trial and to date, over 1, 200 patients have been randomized from the first five countries to evaluate the safety and efficacy of full drug and drug combinations.
Nigeria has also expressed interest to be part of this solidarity trial and efforts are underway to start the process in Nigeria”, she added. On his part, Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha hailed the organized labour for their commitment to the development of the country.
He used the occasion of the 2020 Workers’ Day to urge them to adapt to challenges posed by the Covid-19. Mustapha said; “The atmosphere for this year’s celebration, more than anything else, forcefully reminds us of the disruption to our hitherto normal way of life and challenges us not only as workers but also as citizens; and to leave no stone unturned in our efforts to return to a semblance of normalcy. “The reality is that our lives, the way we knew it, can never be the same again, post COVID-19.
“The reality further challenges the labour movement to carry out research and develop new strategies for workplace operations, and identify innovative ways of ensuring that productivity of the labour force remains a key driver to the nation’s economic growth.
“Particularly, the challenges we are currently facing in the health sector on account of COVID-19 should be given adequate attention.
“This year’s Labour Theme: ‘Maintaining Safety and Security in the workplace’ further emphasizes the importance of ensuring that all Nigerian workers are adequately protected to increase their productivity.
“Similarly, it places on the workers the obligation to take responsibility by adhering to the implementation guidelines that have been developed and circulated especially in this COVID-19 era”.
Mustapha added that the PTF’s response to the situation in Kano is producing expected outcomes since testing was ramped up. According to him, “the State Task Force in collaboration with our teams have also expanded contact tracing and isolation. A lot of emphases is being placed on the training of different categories of manpower (medical, nursing, cleaners, etc), the building of capacity for coordination, care management and supply chain.
“We are also putting together a structure from the PTF to provide support on a fulltime basis. “The UN-System (WHO) is also putting together a surge Team and re-purposing three thousand Community informants from Primary health care in Kano State, to strengthen the coordination of COVID at State and LGA levels.
“Although the spike in numbers coming out of Kano is a bit worrisome, global trends show that such indicates the discovery of previously undetected cases and creates greater opportunities for detection, isolation, care and management”, he added.
He said the Federal Government cannot reduce the Value Added Tax VAT from 7.5 percent, saying the country’s purse was already bleeding. According to him, the federal government takes only 15 percent of the VAT while the balance is shared for states and local governments. Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire said another team of experts would be sent to Kano state to join those already deployed and assist in halting the spread of Covid-19. He said; “with regards to Kano, a multi-sectoral team of specialists comprising of NCDC, NPHCDA, Dept. of Hospital Services, Dept. of Family Health, Infectious disease specialists from Irrua, Media, Special Adviser etc. will leave for Kano Saturday morning to support the State in all areas.
“The main focus of the intervention is on training and capacity building of State healthcare workforce along with various specialities on a massive scale. “On case management, medical, nursing and cleaning staff shall be trained or re-trained, NPHCDA will engage its extensive Kano state network to drive testing demand at grassroots through community mobilization, so that NCDC testing strategy can be realized.
“We get complaints about patients suffering from other ailments not being attended to in either private or public hospitals in the era of COVID-19, raising concern for immunization, RMNCH and routine service coverage. “A senior official of the Dept of Family Health is therefore in the team to help drive the continuation of essential health care in both private and public hospitals in Kano”. Also speaking, Minister of State, Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora pledged to look into allegations that some hospitals were asking people seeking regular treatment to buy them Protective Personal Equipment PPEs.
“If it is true that hospitals demand PPEs from patients before treating them, it is illegal, it is unacceptable and of course condemnable. “I do not expect any hospital, treatment centre or clinic to be making such demands from patients but be that as it may, we will definitely seek more information to enable us to do more investigation and take appropriate remedial actions’. “The interim report from Kano is to let us know the level of engagement with the state government in terms of the governor himself and his state Taskforce.
“Then, engagement with various segments of Kano state, that is, faith-based organizations, community leaders and every other group that is in Kano because when we talk about approaches to managing COVID-19, we need everybody to come on board and that has given us the information that is required in order to unravel what is happening in Kano even before Covid-19”, he added. Learn to live with it Director General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Iheakwazu in his remarks said the Centre would continue to increase its capacity for testing.
He said for now, Nigerians would have to learn to live with the pandemic until there is a vaccine to halt it. He said; “Yesterday (Thursday) we tested 2, 000 samples and that is the highest number of samples we have tested in a single day across the country and these numbers have been increasing everyday.
“In terms of stigmatization and striking a balance between it and social distancing, it is really unfortunate. Imagine if that (stigmatization) is happening in Abuja, what would be happening across the country in homes or communities where individuals have been affected.
“So, we really encourage all Nigerians, because we are at the beginning of a journey and the most likely scenario is that until we have a vaccine, we would have to learn to live with Covid-19 in our country. “So, if we keep stigmatizing one another, I do not know when it will stop because the same people that are stigmatizing others could end up being infected themselves, tomorrow.
“We have to tell ourselves the truth about this and encourage one another because there is no point doing that. All of us here are just as vulnerable as catching the virus as are many other people. “We will do our best, but we will always have to remember that it is a virus, you cannot build a wall and anything can still happen in spite of our best efforts”, he added.
Vanguard News Nigeria.