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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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Travel

Airline Stocks Tumble as Ryanair Cuts Summer Fare Forecast

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Ryanair’s announcement of a significant cut in summer fare expectations has sent ripples through the airline industry, causing stocks to fall sharply.

The no-frills airline reported a nearly 50% drop in profits for the quarter ending June 30, attributing the decline to lower passenger fares and frugal consumer behavior.

Ryanair’s profit before tax fell to €401 million, a stark contrast to the same period last year. This slump is primarily due to a 15% decrease in average passenger fares, as travelers continue to tighten their budgets amid ongoing economic uncertainties.

Chief Executive Michael O’Leary highlighted the shift in consumer behavior, noting that “fares are now moving materially lower than the prior year and pricing continues to deteriorate.”

The company’s previous forecast of stable fares has been revised, with expectations now set for a “materially lower” fare structure between July and September.

The announcement triggered a sell-off in airline stocks, with Ryanair’s share price plummeting by 17%.

Other airlines, including EasyJet and Wizz Air, also experienced declines, reflecting broader concerns about the industry’s financial health as customer spending contracts.

Experts are questioning whether the entire sector is facing a downturn, especially as consumers delay booking trips and opt for more budget-friendly options.

Despite the profit drop, Ryanair reported a slight increase in passenger numbers, which helped mitigate a more significant fall in overall revenue.

However, the airline emphasized that its summer performance heavily relies on last-minute bookings, particularly in August and September.

The trend of delayed bookings is partly due to the cost-of-living crisis, which continues to influence consumer spending habits.

This trend aligns with observations from other airlines like Jet2, which noted only modest price increases amid late bookings.

Ryanair’s struggles are compounded by external challenges such as air traffic control strikes and a global IT meltdown, which have led to delays and cancellations.

These issues have further dampened consumer confidence, potentially impacting last-minute booking numbers.

Moreover, Ryanair faces operational hurdles with aircraft deliveries. Boeing has warned that some 737 Max planes expected by next spring will be delayed until summer 2025, posing a threat to Ryanair’s capacity during peak travel periods.

The airline industry is grappling with the end of a post-pandemic boom in pricing, as evident from warnings by other carriers like Lufthansa and Air France-KLM.

As economic pressures mount, the sector must navigate a landscape of cautious consumer spending and logistical challenges.

Ryanair’s latest figures underscore the fragile nature of the current travel market, prompting airlines to reassess strategies to attract budget-conscious travelers while maintaining profitability.

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Travel

Max Air Flight Suffers Multiple Tyre Bursts, Passengers Safe

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Max Air

A Max Air flight carrying 119 passengers and six crew members from Yola to Abuja experienced a rare tyre malfunction during takeoff.

The Boeing 737, flight NGL1649, encountered an issue when four of its tyres burst, leading to an emergency halt on the runway.

The Director of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection at the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB), Bimbo Olawumi Oladeji, confirmed the incident.

She stated that as the aircraft began its takeoff roll, a loud bang was heard, identified as the bursting of the rear gear tyres.

Initially, two tyres burst, and while attempting to taxi off the runway, the remaining two tyres also burst, leaving the aircraft disabled.

Glory be to God, no injuries were reported among the passengers or crew, thanks to the quick response and professionalism of the flight team.

A go-team, led by NSIB Director General Alex Badeh, is set to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident to determine the cause of the malfunction.

This investigation aims to ensure the continued safety and reliability of air travel in the region.

Max Air has expressed gratitude for the cooperation and calmness of all passengers during the incident and assured the public of their commitment to maintaining high safety standards.

The airline is working closely with authorities to address any potential issues and prevent future occurrences.

As investigations proceed, the aviation community remains focused on learning from the event to enhance safety protocols and maintain passenger confidence in air travel across Nigeria.

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Nigerians Increasingly Reject Bribe Demands, Reports NBS

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Bribery

70% of Nigerians reportedly refused to pay bribes on at least one occasion in 2023, according to a report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The report, titled “Corruption in Nigeria: Patterns and Trends,” highlights the growing resistance to bribery among citizens.

The study found that 42% of Nigerians cited moral objections as their primary reason for refusing bribes.

Also, 23% were motivated by the pressures of the rising cost of living, while 21% had alternative ways to achieve their goals without resorting to corruption.

The report noted the highest bribery refusal rate in the North-West, where 76% of individuals resisted paying bribes.

All regions across the country recorded refusal rates exceeding 60%, indicating a nationwide trend towards rejecting corruption.

Public tolerance for bribery has also diminished, with only 23% of Nigerians considering bribery acceptable for expediting administrative processes, down from 29% in 2019.

Furthermore, fewer citizens reported facing negative consequences for refusing bribes, with figures dropping from 49% in 2019 to 38% in 2023.

This suggests a growing empowerment among Nigerians to challenge corrupt officials without fear of retaliation.

Despite these positive trends, the NBS report highlighted that over N700 billion was still paid in cash bribes to public officials in 2023.

Corruption remains the fourth most pressing issue in the country, following the cost of living, insecurity, and unemployment.

The report also underscored a decline in public confidence in the government’s anti-corruption efforts.

In 2019, more than half of Nigerians believed the government was effective in combating corruption, but by 2023, this confidence had fallen to less than a third.

The NBS findings offer a glimmer of hope for Nigeria’s fight against corruption, showcasing a public increasingly willing to stand up against bribery and demand accountability from their leaders.

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