Nigeria has relatively low positive cases of coronavirus infections compared to the rest of the world, but the country leads West Africa in the number of Covid-19 infections and ranks averagely in terms of recovery and fatality rates.
The Covid-19 daily update report from the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) Centre for Surveillance and Disease Control as of November 23, 2020, shows that Nigeria is ranked 7th on recovery rate (93.5%), 10th on death rate (CFR – case fatality ratio) at 1.76%, and 9th on active cases (4.6%) amongst the 15 member countries of the bloc.
However, population size has to be factored in when judging infection and recovery figures – Nigeria has three times as many people as the second most populated country in the region, which is Ghana.
The Nigerian government has taken many precautions to curb the further spread of the pandemic such as implementing curfews and lockdowns. Schools and workplaces were also shut down to prevent more casualties, and even commercial avenues like marketplaces were assigned days and times to open.
But as the infection curve flattened, commercial avenues were opened totally with rules of wearing nose masks as well as washing and sanitizing of hands. With the chances of the virus spreading further across the country, especially seeing a renewed surge in cases across Europe and in the United States, Nigeria will be hoping for a fast and lasting solution to exit the pandemic.
U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German partner BioNTech are currently leading the race for a Covid-19 vaccine. Their jab is said to be more than 90% effective in preventing the virus based on the initial data from a large study in the ongoing phase 3 trials and the companies have applied for emergency use authorisation from regulators.
Dr. Onyema Ogbuagbu, a Nigerian doctor, is identified as a key figure in the discovery. In a recent interview with ABC News, he says although doses will be unavailable for everyone at first, massive distribution will take off in the first quarter of 2021.
Other vaccines that have recorded similar levels of efficacy are the Moderna vaccine candidate (94.5% protection), Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine (70% protection), and the Russian Sputnik V vaccine (92% protection), according to Moscow.
President Muhammadu Buhari had reacted to news of the effective Pfizer vaccine and described the development as a major milestone in medicine but warned that the world must “unite in facilitating equitable access and distribution of the vaccines to protect people in all countries.”
While not stating which vaccine Nigeria will be looking to purchase, Health Minister Dr. Osagie Ehanire recently said that any jab that is considered fit for global use in treating coronavirus will be made available early to Nigerians.
The Federal Government also announced through the Ministry of Health that it will inaugurate an 18-man Covid-19 Vaccine Task Team, in a bid to ensure vaccine security in Nigeria. This was disclosed on Monday by the Minister during the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19 in Abuja.
The coronavirus disease continues to spread significantly in Nigeria, with data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) showing that 168 new cases and 1 death were recorded in the country on Tuesday, November 24. To date, the total infection tally stands at 66,607, with 62,311 recoveries and 1,169 deaths across 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
Ameenah Hassan is an intern at Arbiterz.