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Major health stories published last week

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Major health stories published last week

Three competitors have emerged in the international race to find a vaccine to tackle the coronavirus, which has infected over 62 million people, killing over a million persons in at least 200 countries.

U.S. pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have announced that their drug is 95 per cent effective and that there were no safety concerns.

The U.S. pharmaceutical firm Moderna on November 16 announced that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate was 94.5 per cent effective.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, welcomed the rapid progress towards a safe and effective vaccine but warned that there was a “long way to go” in getting the virus under control globally.

As of Sunday morning, Nigeria has recorded 67,330 cases of the infection. Over 1,000 fatalities have also been recorded, according to data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Here are some of the health stories which made headlines last week.

Why COVID-19 is less prevalent in Africa than the US – Study

A recent study has explained the reason for the lower prevalence of the novel coronavirus disease in sub-Saharan Africa compared to that in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

Map of AFrica used to illustrate the story.

Findings of the study published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases show that there is a higher prevalence of cross-reactive antibodies against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV-2) in the blood samples collected from sub-Saharan African populations.

“The level of antibodies is probably because of Africans prior exposure to other human coronaviruses,” according to the report on news-medical.net.

Government starts health insurance scheme for uninsured Nigerians

The federal government has launched a health insurance scheme for Nigerians who are not insured by their employers.

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, launched the Group Individual and Family Social Health Insurance Programme (GIFSHIP) on Thursday at Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, at a press briefing on the outbreak of Coronavirus in Nigeria
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, at a press briefing on the outbreak of Coronavirus in Nigeria

He said the new programme will be added to packages being run by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

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COVID-19: Testing still vital even as vaccines roll out

Testing will still be a critical tool against COVID-19, even as vaccines are deployed against the disease, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday during his regular briefing on the crisis.

A family is being tested for COVID-19 in Nigeria [PHOTO: TW: @NCDCgov]
A family is being tested for COVID-19 in Nigeria [PHOTO: TW: @NCDCgov]

WHO chief, Tedros Gheybreyesus, emphasised how prevalent testing has been common among countries which have worked to control the virus.

FG mulls committee to secure access to COVID-19 vaccines

The Nigerian government has announced plans to inaugurate an 18-member national COVID-19 task team to ensure “vaccine security” when it finally gets to the country.

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, made this known at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing on Monday.

Global HIV toll likely to be far higher owing to COVID-19, warns UNAIDS

Countries should adopt ambitious new targets to tackle HIV/AIDS to avoid hundreds of thousands of additional infections and deaths linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN said on Thursday.

In its appeal, the specialised UN agency, UNAIDS, warned that the pandemic has pushed the world’s AIDS response even further off track, and that 2020 targets are being missed.

Six in 10 children are immune to COVID-19 – Study

A new study has shown that six in 10 children are immune to COVID-19, despite never being infected by it.

School children used to illustrate the story.

Findings of the study published on GAVI.org, shows that children are far more likely than adults to have antibodies against COVID-19.

HIV stigmatisation high in Nigeria’s religious environment — Group

A nongovernmental group, Nigeria Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV/AIDS (NINERELA+), has said religious leaders fuel stigmatisation against People Living with HIV (PLWHIV).

The National Coordinator of NINERELA+, Amber Erinmwinhe, said this at a dialogue on faith and mitigation of HIV related stigma and right violations in Abuja on Thursday.

Only 38 of Nigeria’s 774 LGAs are open defecation free — Minister

Only 22 more local government areas in Nigeria have become open defecation free (ODF) since last year, the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, says.

Open Defecation
Open Defecation

This brings to 38 the number of LGAs which have attained the status, five years to the target set by Nigeria for ending open defecation nationwide.

The minister said this at the first anniversary of the ‘Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet Campaign’ in Abuja on Thursday.

45,000 persons living with HIV in Nigeria died in 2019 – UNAIDS

At least 45,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria died in 2019, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said on Tuesday.

Fiona Braka, a representative of the UN agency, made this known at a press conference ahead of the 2020 World AIDS Day organised by the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA).

She said the death rate is “unacceptable”.



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