COVID-19: Delta variant now most dominant in Nigeria, warns Minister

*Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Honourable Minister for Health, discloses there is evidence the Delta strain of the Coronavirus pandemic is already the dominant one in the country

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

As the West African country also intensifies efforts at limiting the spread of the third wave of the pandemic, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Honourable Minister for Health, has revealed the Delta variant of the disruptive COVID-19 as the dominant strain in the country as of now.

The Minister reminded Nigerians that they are required to keep all the prescribed protective measures in place and increase testing in view of the spread of the Coronavirus variant said to be ‘highly transmissible’.

Dr. Ehanire, speaking at the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 media briefing Monday, September 13, 2021, in Abuja, FCT, said: “The dreaded 3rd wave of COVID-19 may appear to be levelling out, because there had been no catastrophic increases in infections and fatalities.

Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Honourable Minister for Health

“But, it is not wise to assume that the threat is gone, especially as cases are fluctuating and have to be identified by genomic sequencing.

“Evidence so far, however, is that the Delta strain is already the dominant one in Nigeria. We must keep our protective measures in place and increase testing to determine our situation.”

Ehanire stated: “There are reports of new Coronavirus mutations circulating in other countries, a development we shall monitor with all the tools available to us, to ensure we respond appropriately.

“We also remain on alert at Points of Entry, including land and sea borders, to confront importation of COVID-19.

“Several cases have indeed been identified by rapid diagnostic tests and taken care of accordingly.

In ensuring vaccine availability, equity and enhanced vaccination in Nigeria, the Minister said that the government had secured nearly 40 million doses of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 Vaccines due to arrive at a rate that NPHCDA would set, to align with their utilisation strategy.

The Minister for Health further noted: “All states have received doses of AstraZeneca, Moderna and J&J vaccines for the ongoing second phase of the vaccination exercise in all states, while the federal government has done due diligence to ensure vaccine quality and safety.

“Available data shows that there have been no serious adverse effects so far, following vaccinations so that confidence in vaccines we are using is upheld.

“We have a good mix and quantity of vaccines and do not envisage shortages, despite news reports that vaccines allocated to Africa will be reduced by 25 percent soon.”

He also said: “We believe the reduction may be linked to increased demand in high income countries, many of whom have commenced third booster doses of COVID-19 and or reduced vaccine eligibility age in their countries to 12 years or even less.

“This tells us that the vaccine is effective and that we should also accept it.

“We shall also surely receive donor doses, so that we do not expect to be impacted by the expected shortfall.”

1.6m eligible Nigerians fully vaccinated against COVID-19 ─NPHCDA

In a related development, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has said that 1,692,315 eligible Nigerian have received two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in the country.

COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria

Dr. Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director and CEO of NPHCDA, noted this at the briefing of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 Monday, in Abuja.

ConsumerConnect reports the NPHCDA Chief emphasised that the progress attained was recorded in the six months since the country commenced the COVID-19 vaccination of its citizens against the virus.

Shuaib said: “1,692,315 persons have received two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, as approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“As at (sic) Monday evening, 4,052,756 eligible Nigerians have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccines.

“This is made up of 2,645,020 persons with the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine and 1,407,736 persons with first dose of the Moderna vaccine.”

He also submitted that “a total of 1,692,315 eligible persons are fully vaccinated and we currently have a national average of 70.4 per cent utilisation of the 2,000,040 doses of the Moderna vaccines we received.”

Meanwhile, Shuaib said that the 36 states and the Federal Capital had been guided not to exceed their 50 percent utilisation rates for the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines so as to reserve the second doses for all those already vaccinated in Nigeria.

Most states have reached the percentage, and priority is now being focused on administering AstraZeneca Vaccines as first dose vaccine in all states of the Federation.

Shuaib urged states yet to publish their vaccination sites to do so across the various media platforms, including newspapers, radio, TV, and social media channels in order to enable consumers to locate their nearest vaccination sites.

“The list of vaccination sites across the country is also available on the NPHCDA website: www.nphcda.gov.ng and eligible persons who are unable to register by themselves can go to any designated health facility where he/she will be assisted by our vaccination teams,” he said.

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