Nigeria has received four million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from the United States as it steps up efforts to battle a third wave of infections.
The doses, which arrived on two planes on Sunday, were received by UNICEF officials on behalf of Nigeria at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, according to the AFP.
The delivery was the second batch of vaccines to arrive in Nigeria after four million doses were delivered in March under the COVAX vaccine sharing Facility.
COVAX was set up to ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines, particularly to low-income countries, and has already delivered more than 80 million doses to 129 territories.
Nigeria has since exhausted the four million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to kick off its nationwide inoculation programme.
The Moderna vaccine received on Sunday, is mRNA type of vaccine manufactured and developed by Moderna, NIAID. Two shots of the vaccine are administered through intramuscular injection, 28 days apart.
The Moderna vaccine has been listed for emergency use by the World Health Organisation, WHO, and approved by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, as safe and effective based on data from large-scale clinical trials.
In June, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, reported the first case of the highly contagious Delta variant putting the nation on alert for a third wave of infections in the country.
Nigeria has since recorded more cases of the Delta variant and experts worry that the situation could pose another setback to vaccine distribution, particularly if wealthier countries begin requiring booster shots for fully-vaccinated people, the Delta variant could slow shipments of urgently needed doses to developing nations.
Nigeria has recorded more than 174,000 COVID-19 cases with 2,149 deaths.
No less than 250 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are expected to be donated through the COVAX Facility within six to eight weeks, according to the WHO. The US is distributing 80 million vaccine doses through COVAX.
With more than 152 million doses distributed thus far to 137 participating territories, the COVAX scheme aims to provide vaccines to poorer countries, and the inflow of doses will be a major boost.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, on Sunday disclosed that the state recorded six COVID-19 related deaths with 519 infections in two days.
Abayomi who disclosed this on his Facebook account @ProfAkinolaAbayomi, said that the deaths increased the mortality in the state to 384.
He said 4,437 tests were conducted on the reported dates, out of which 519 new COVID-19 infections were confirmed.
“The new infections increased the state’s total COVID-19 infections to 63,872. There are currently 2,783 active COVID-19 cases in communities being managed under the state’s Home Based Care.”
He said the number of patients receiving treatment at the state’s isolation facilities had increased from 128 to 136 persons.
Abayomi said 56,127 of the infected people had recovered in communities, while 4,399 had recovered in the state’s COVID-19 isolation centres.
Acknowledging that the state was under severe stress and strain of COVID-19 third wave said not less than 100 and 300 new cases of COVID-19 infections are diagnosed daily.
He added that the total number of COVID-19 tests conducted in the state since the inception of the pandemic stood at 607,803.
The World Health Organisation, WHO, has warned that the world is at risk of losing hard-won gains in fighting COVID-19 as the highly transmissible Delta variant continues to spread, even as some of the WHO-approved vaccines remain effective.
According to the WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, COVID-19 infections have increased by 80 percent over the past four weeks in most regions of the world. Deaths in Africa – where only 1.5 percent of the population is vaccinated – rose by 80 percent over the same period.
“Hard-won gains are in jeopardy or being lost, and health systems in many countries are being overwhelmed,” the WHO chief warned.
WHO’s top emergency expert, Dr Mike Ryan noted: “We are fighting the same virus but a virus that has become faster and better adapted to transmitting amongst us humans, that’s the change.”
Many countries had reported increased hospitalisation rates, but higher rates of mortality had not been recorded from the Delta variant, she said.
Japan said on Friday it would expand states of emergency to three prefectures near Olympic host city Tokyo and the western prefecture of Osaka, as COVID-19 cases spike in the capital and around the country, overshadowing the Summer Games.