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Benefits of AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Outweigh Risks- NAFDAC, WHO

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COVID-19 - Investors King

With the many controversies surrounding the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine to protect citizens from the covid-19 disease, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has stressed that the benefits of taking the vaccine far outweigh the risks.

This came as the World Health Organisation (WHO) also declared that AstraZeneca Plc’s COVID-19 vaccine should continue to be administered as the benefits outweigh its risks.

Over 20 countries across the globe have suspended the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine due to random cases of blood-clotting, which has not yet been scientifically linked with vaccination. They have temporarily suspended the vaccination as a precautionary measure while they carry out further investigations and analyses.

Speaking during an interview on Channels Television in Abuja yesterday, the Director-General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, stated that the agency is not nonchalantly approving the emergency use of the vaccine, but predicates its decision on its detailed findings and recommendations from more mature regulatory agencies and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

She noted that out of over 17 million people vaccinated worldwide, sadly, only 37 persons have been reported to have adverse events from taking the vaccine. This, according to her, should not be a basis to suspend the ongoing vaccination of Nigerians.

She said: “We gave the AstraZeneca vaccine emergency use authorisation and this took place after exhaustively going over the data that was contained in the dossier. This was after more mature regulatory agencies have approved. It was after the World Health Organisation (WHO) approved for emergency use listing. So, we did not do this nonchalantly at all because the health of our people is prime to NAFDAC.

“However, when it comes to the development of any product, there are phases in which the product goes through – preclinical, clinical phase that is made up of phases – 1, 2, and 3, and then post-marketing or pharmacovigilance phase.

“These vaccines have been studied up to the phase 3 clinical trials. Where we are right now is post-marketing pharmacovigilance or what we call phase 4. When a product is developed in this emergency approval, it is still being watched and studied because no regulatory agency has given it full assent because it is still under study.

“There will be more information coming out. Part of the information up to phase 3 clinical trial is safety and efficacy. If the side effects or adverse events are very few, in which case the risks are so minimal compared to the benefits, most of the time that product is approved.

“AstraZeneca for example, 17 million people have been injected with it in Europe, UK, and only 37 cases (I don’t want to use that only carelessly because it is 37 individuals). But when you look at 37 reaction cases compared to 17 million, you’re talking of 0.000002 per cent. That is very small. If we have to stop the use of a medicine with a risk of 0.000002 per cent, then we will not have medicines at all.”

However, the Chairman of the International Institutes of Advanced Research and Training, Prof Philip Njemanze, has faulted the Federal Government’s ongoing vaccination strategy. He stated that the planned mass vaccination of Nigerians does not make medical sense, as such vaccinations are only carried out when a disease is widespread in a population.

He stated that the current number of infections in the country which is not up to 200,000 is not a basis for deciding to vaccinate nearly 200 million people in order to achieve herd immunity. Furthermore, he believes Nigeria is not experiencing the pandemic compared to other countries in Europe and America.

In her reaction, the NAFDAC boss said: “We are seeing variants of the COVID-19 virus developing, and we do not know what will happen tomorrow. COVID-19 may become a seasonal disease. When you have such a disease, you have got to get your vaccination and that cannot be overemphasised because of the seriousness of the disease.

“The approach that he is talking about I will say is logical but not a medically-based approach because we develop drugs every day and we make drugs every day and we see side effects. This is usually when beyond proof the benefits outweigh the risk.

“I could see the perspective of Prof. Njemanze, however, this is not the first drug that will be on the emergency use authorisation, and this is not the first vaccine that is being used for COVID-19.”

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Introduction of Sin Tax Will Lower Disease Rate, Improve Nigeria’s Health System– ACUF

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Company Income Tax (CIT) - Investors King

The introduction of sin tax has been applauded and described as a legislation that will improve Nigeria’s health system.

Dr Chiwuike Uba, the Board Chairman of ACUF, Amaka Chiwuike-Uba Foundation, in a press statement explained that sin tax will reduce the rate of diseases as well as increase government revenue.

Dr Uba commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the development and said the income from the sin tax, if well spent, would drastically enhance the nation’s health sector.

He noted that it will lead to a great reduction in the consumption of harmful goods, especially Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) which will in turn improve citizenry’s health. 

The placement of N10 per litre excise duty on soft drinks was described as a long-awaited welcome development.

The foundation further advocated for a comprehensive sin tax in Nigeria to cut consumption of potentially health-threatening items, adding that it will increase income for better healthcare of the citizens.

Dr Uba said, “we are hopeful that the federal government will charge 100 percent excise duties on sugar-sweetened beverages, tobacco, alcohol and other potentially health-threatening products.

“The partial introduction of Sin Tax will not only lead to a drastic decline in the consumption of potentially harmful goods especially SSBs, but an increase in government revenue and improvements in the population’s health.

“According to statistics, in 2019, Nigeria was the 7th-largest country with the highest consumption of soft drinks globally, with more than 49 servings of 8 ounces per capita per year. The market is projected to grow by 17.12 percent per year from 2021- 2026. Currently, more than 100 soft drink brands are made or bottled in Nigeria from about 15 bottling or drink manufacturers.”

Speaking on the diseases caused by the consumption of SSBs, the expert said despite the awareness on diabetes, stroke, heart attacks, cancer and associated deaths, the estimated average per capita consumption of soft drinks was approximately 57.02 litres in 2021.

He added that the affordable price increased the purchase of SSBs and a price hike will reduce consumption and encourage intake of organic fruits and fruit juice which will boost agriculture.

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Npower Payment: November, December Stipend To Be Paid In February

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Npower

There are indications that Npower Batch C volunteers might get their November and December 2021 stipend between the first or second week of February 2022.

Investors King gathered that the stipend has been approved by the Federal Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs but there might be a delay in payment due to Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Scheme (NIBSS) validation, as this validation takes quite a while.

Recall that Investors King had earlier reported that the minister for humanitarian affairs, disaster management, and social development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq disclosed that payment of October stipend was delayed to the Npower beneficiaries in order to sort out challenges which have resulted in some Npower beneficiaries’ Bank Accounts not being credited.

Meanwhile, pending October and September stipend payment is ongoing at the moment and volunteers who have not been paid are advised to continue to check their Npower payroll status until it changes from processing to paid.

However, if after payment, the stipend is still yet to be received, the issue emanates from the beneficiary’s bank.

Also, names mismatch also have a great role to play in the payment process. This means that if the beneficiary’s name does not correspond with the account name, payment might not be received. This is why the majority of Npower volunteers are not paid, as most volunteers did not supply the exact names on their BVN when filling the N-Power NASIMS portal.

N-Power is a scheme set up by the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari on 8 June 2016, to address the issues of youth unemployment and help increase social development.

The scheme is created for unemployed graduates and non-graduates between the ages of 18 and 35. It is a paid programme of two-year duration, aimed at engaging beneficiaries in their states of residence.

Recently, the Federal Government said it had concluded a plan to enlist additional 400,000 youths for the Batch C N-Power programme in the country.

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Fresh N6bn Fraud: Popular Instagram Influencer Mompha Arraigned Again

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Popular social media celebrity, Ismaila Mustapha, popularly known as Mompha is currently in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, pending the hearing of his bail application in the N6 billion fraud charge filed against him.

The agency re-arraigned Mompha and his firm, Ismalob Global Investment Limited before Justice Mojisola Dada of an Ikeja Special Offences Court on eight counts bordering on the alleged offences.

The EFCC made this disclosure at Lagos Special Offences Court in Ikeja, on Wednesday.

The defendants were accused of conspiracy to launder funds obtained through unlawful activity, retention of such funds, transfer of funds for a suspect Olayinka Jimoh a.k.a Nappy Boy, and unlawful transfer of funds for a record label, among others.

The sums named in the charge are N5.9 billion, N32m, N120m and N15.9 totalling over 6 billion. The agency alleged that Mompha hid his wealth in wristwatches and other movable assets valued at over N70m.

However, the Instagram celebrity pleaded ‘Not guilty’ to the eight counts while Islamob Limited (represented also by Mompha) pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the first six counts.

Earlier on Monday, the anti-graft agency had arrested the internet celebrity and his firm, Ismalob Global Investment Limited for alleged money laundering. The agency, in a statement, had revealed that a fraudulent transfer slip of $92, 412, 75 was found in his iPhone 8 device.

“It will be recalled that Mompha had earlier been arrested on October 18, 2019 at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport while boarding an Emirates Airline Flight to Dubai by the staff of the Nigeria Immigration Service, following a watch list by the EFCC.

“Mompha is alleged to have used his registered companies to receive illicit funds on behalf of “yahoo yahoo” boys from across the world in return for commission.

“The account of one of his companies, Ismalob Global Investment Limited Bank, a Bureau de Change Company, domiciled in Zenith Bank Plc, was allegedly used to launder funds derived from unlawful activities”, the statement had read.

Meanwhile, this is not the first time the anti-graft agency would arraign Mompha.

Recall that sometime in 2019, Investors king had reported that Mompha was arraigned on 14 counts bordering on fraud, money laundering and running a foreign exchange business without the authorisation of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The EFCC, in the charges against Mompha, said the suspect used his company’s bank account with the name Ismalob Global Investment to facilitate a combined N33 billion transfer between 2015 and 2018.

There are however reports that this fresh arrest is unconnected to the existing charges in court.

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