Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has said that over seventy-six million Nigerians have been vaccinated against the dreaded COVID-19 virus adding that there are no increased reported cases of the virus in the country. He stated this in response to the increasing COVID-19 cases being experienced in China and other countries.
The minister who spoke with African Leadership Magazine and others at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria, recently said the sub-lineages partly responsible for the current increase in COVID-19 cases in other countries, such as XBB.1.5 and BF.7 COVID-19 variants were yet to be detected in the country base on reports gotten in November 2022.
The health administrator also said that, based on confirmed data, COVID-19 has continued to follow a different epidemiological course in Nigeria and most of Africa, with fewer cases, admissions, and deaths from the Omicron sub-lineages.
While calling on Nigerians to complete their vaccine doses and also go for booster jabs because it has been proven to strengthen immunity,
He added that The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) led COVID-19 emergency operation unit was closely monitoring the rise in the new Omicron sub-lineages XBB.1.5 in the UK and US, as well as the current resurgence of COVID-19 trends in China and other countries with a high volume of traffic to and from Nigeria.
Ehanire said administering of booster shots was now being encouraged by the Federal Government of Nigeria because of the affirmation by The World Health Organization that those with vaccine booster shots were less likely to fall sick or die from COVID-19 infection.
While providing updates of COVID-19 infections and treatment, The Nigeria’s Health Minister said: “In Nigeria, we have had 5,708,974 samples tested, 266,463 confirmed cases, 259,850 discharged cases and unfortunately 3,155 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).”
“We are working to complete testing and analysis for December 2022. Since the detection of the Omicron variant in December 2021, its sub-lineages (BQ.1/BQ.1.1) have been dominant in Nigeria also, as seen in other parts of the world.
“It is important to note that regardless of COVID-19 variants in different parts of the world, severe disease, admissions, and deaths disproportionately affect the unvaccinated and those with established risk factors,” he said.
The minister asserted that the most important action for Nigerians to take was to get vaccinated against COVID-19, as the vaccine remains the most important intervention for preventing severe disease, hospitalisation, and death.
Furthermore, he said though the COVID-19 protocols and restrictions have eased, people at high risk for severe COVID-19 were advised to continue to adhere to the recommended non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPIs) such as the use of facemasks, good hand and respiratory hygiene and avoidance of crowded spaces.
Ehanire later stated that due to the refusal of most inbound passengers to use the online platform to declare their vaccination status, a decision to enforce regulations at the international airports would be handled more strictly.
From the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) records, as of Monday, January 9, 2023, 76,161,470 eligible persons have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria, representing 65.7 per cent of Nigeria’s eligible population.
64,094,498 persons have been fully vaccinated, representing 55.3 per cent of the nation’s eligible population, and 9,892,018 have received booster doses.
The World Health Organization and several renowned medical experts worldwide have said that in contending against COVID-19, vaccination remains an important intervention for preventing severe disease, hospitalisation, and death.