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Policy Brief on COVID-19 Vaccine Management in Nigeria
The novel Coronavirus, which was first discovered in 2019 in Wuhan, China, has continued its global spread with devastating effects while wreaking untold havoc across the globe. The latest data from the John Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Centre indicate that there are about 116,169, 119 cases recorded in 192 countries with 2,582,075 deaths. The data from the Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control (NCDC) as of March 8, 2021, shows that Nigeria has confirmed cases of 158,506 out of there are 18,647 active cases with 1,969 deaths recorded. It is needless to say that the COVID-19 pandemic is not only a health crisis of monumental magnitude but equally governance, political, social and economic crises which took the world unawares. This has posed significant threats to developing and developed economies and unsettled the political world, posing serious policy and governance challenges as policy-makers seek effective measures to tame the lethal virus. The virus that causes COVID-19 disease the SARS-COV2, is so named because of its “crown-like spikes”.
Reports in the last quarter of 2020, highlighted the possible mutation in the virus with a new variant identified in Denmark. Later in the year, another variant was identified in the United Kingdom (UK) and another variant in South Africa in December 2020. This new variant was reported to have been identified with a major threat as it recorded faster transmission. The new variant identified in the UK was later reported in five states and the FCT in Nigeria: Lagos Osun, Oyo, Kwara and Edo states. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) also noted that as of “February 14, 2021, there were about 55 different lineages of SARS-CoV-2 known to be circulating in Nigeria and thy are changing rapidly.” As of February 17 2021, a new variant was reported from the United Kingdom, Denmark, Nigeria, United States of America, Canada, France, Ghana, Australia, Jordan, Singapore, Finland, Belgium and Spain.
Given its novelty, there was, at the time of its outbreak and indeed for the larger part of the year 2020, no known medical and scientific cure for the new strain of SARS-COV2. Hence, scientists and researchers across the globe worked frenetically to develop and produce therapeutic remedies and vaccines that could stop the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate its impact on humanity. So far, 78 candidate vaccines have been developed, with 4778 clinical trials conducted and seven vaccines developed and certified by the World Health Organization (WHO) have been rolled out in different countries. Gladly, successes and progress have been made in this regard, with a number of vaccines developed as nations now face the uphill task of accessing them and vaccinating their citizens. This is, however, dependent on leadership which remains central in the determinant of the clear procedure and structure for the vaccine distribution. Accordingly, while it is heartwarming that some vaccines have been developed to tame the rampaging coronavirus pandemic, it leaves policymakers and leaders with notable challenges.
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