The Federal Government has described the nonchalant attitude for preventive protocols against the COVID-19 pandemic by Nigerians as being worrisome, especially with the confirmation of the Indian variant of the virus in the country.
It stated that aside from the inoculation which comes by vaccination, Nigerians must take responsibility for their health by avoiding mass gathering, properly wearing face masks and strict adherence to hand and mouth hygiene.
It further revealed that available data suggests that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is efficacious against the Indian strain and the prevailing strain in the country.
The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, made these known yesterday during a television programme on Arise TV.
He said: “The Indian variant is not only in Nigeria but also in 44 other countries. The fact that that variant is in Nigeria is not in itself a reason for concern. The reasons for concern are what we are doing firstly as a government, but secondly as the people.
“There is no point running around and attending weddings without masks – what many of us are doing, and then worrying about the emergence of a variant. We advise Nigerians to do what they can do, while we at the NCDC will continue to do its best to protect the health of Nigerians every day.
“If we look at our high risk to this pandemic that a lot of us have suffered from, I would like to think about it in three broad categories. One is the risk associated with the virus itself. Two is how you mitigate that risk which involves the vaccination programme. The third is what people do. We are working very hard to find the viruses, sequence them, and increase our sequencing capacity so that we can detect new variants when they do occur.”
The NCDC boss added: “Concerning the efficacy of the existing AstraZeneca vaccine against the circulating strain, there is no evidence that the AstraZeneca vaccine is less efficacious against the strain from India circulating.
“The challenge we have is getting enough people vaccinated quickly enough so that we can prevent them from having infections. Our biggest challenge with that is in the global supply chain, which we are working very hard on.”
“The numbers of COVID-19 cases have reduced significantly, and testing has been fairly good. We test between 30,000 and 40,000 people every week, and out of that, our test positivity ratio is about one per cent, meaning that one in about 100 people tested come out positive.
“We are fairly confident in the robustness of our numbers, and that is validated by many other data streams. The number of people that walk into hospitals with respiratory symptoms has reduced across boards, and the number of calls we get in our call centres have reduced very much.”
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