COVID-19 vaccine may be available in 6 months — NCDC

The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu, says there are a lot of ongoing programmes on the COVID-19 vaccine research and that a vaccine may be available within the next six to 12 months. Speaking on Thursday during the virtual weekly briefing of the African Centre for Disease Control, he said the country recorded between 500 and 700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 every day.

He said the country had not experienced an explosion of cases as predicted by some models during the initial days of the outbreak. Dr Ihekweazu said Lagos accounts for about 30 per cent of the cases in Nigeria because of its large population and influx of international travellers into the country at the onset of the outbreak, among others. The NCDC boss said Nigeria had so far tested 250, 000 persons for COVID-19, adding that the figure was however not large enough for the country’s population. He said the country now has 60 molecular testing centres across the country.

“We initially didn’t have enough molecular testing centres. But now we have 60 molecular testing centres. 85 percent of the 36 states of the country now have testing centres and we intend to cover the remaining six states by next week,” he said. He said NCDC would continue to improve the sensitivity of the country’s surveillance system, adding that it would also increase focus on Infection, Prevention, and Control (IPC). While enjoining the populace to stick to health guidelines against COVID-19, he said prevention was key in Nigeria’s response to the disease.

According to him, Nigeria’s response also relies on science and not some unscientific claims screamed over microphones. Also speaking, the Director, Africa CDC, Dr. John Nkengasong, enjoined all African countries to establish centres for disease control, saying COVID-19 had shown that every African state needed one. He said as of today, 55 Member States in Africa have reported 891,199 cases of COVID-19 and 18,884 deaths, giving a case fatality rate of 2.1%. He said, “There have been 540,872 recoveries. In the past week, there was a 15 percent increase in cases, with 118,868 new cases reported, an average of 16,981 new cases reported per day. The average daily new cases for the previous week were 17,587.”

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