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World Leaders Unite to Commit to Global Equitable Access for COVID-19 Vaccines

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World leaders joined forces at the “One World Protected”- Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) Summit hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide and Gavi Board Chair, José Manuel Barroso to pledge their support to the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) securing US$ 2.4 billion, reaching a total of US$ 9.6 billion for COVID-19 vaccine procurement. In addition, donors have pledged US$ 775 million for vaccine delivery.

This funding will allow the COVAX AMC to secure 1.8 billion fully subsidised doses for delivery to lower-income economies in 2021 and early 2022. This is enough to protect nearly 30% of the adult population in AMC-eligible economies. The funds raised will also support COVAX to diversify its vaccine portfolio in times of supply uncertainty and new variant emergence and to plan the scenarios and strategy for public health needs for 2022 and beyond.

“Bringing an end to the COVID-19 pandemic is the most pressing challenge of our time – and nobody wins the race until everyone wins,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi. “Today, as we looked back on one year of COVAX, we saw that global leaders clearly recognise the need for equitable access and support the principle that ability to pay should not determine whether someone is protected from this virus.”

The European Investment Bank is stepping up to support African Union countries with an additional EUR 300 million financing to access vaccines via the COVAX cost-sharing scheme – leveraging domestic resources to procure safe and efficacious vaccines through COVAX.

Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank: “Over the last year global cooperation, including advanced funding from the European Investment Bank, has enabled COVAX to deliver 70 million doses in 126 countries, but access remains a privilege. Today’s One World Protected summit is mobilising urgent action essential to tackle the significant shortfall and increase overall financing. This will ensure that the global COVAX roll-out delivers billions of vaccines in 2021 and early 2022 to tackle COVID-19, save lives and help communities and business to return to normality. As part of Team Europe the EIB is currently working to increase its financing to COVAX, alongside backing new investment to strengthen health and economic resilience to the pandemic around the world.”

President von der Leyen, President, European Commission: “To accelerate safe and effective vaccination everywhere we all need to step up efforts. This is the only way to get out of the current crisis and to prevent a new pandemic. Team Europe is investing in COVAX, both financially and by sharing vaccines. Because we believe this is the best way to ensure universal, fair and affordable access to COVID19 vaccines. Our common goal is to leave no one behind. The EU, together with the European Investment Bank, will reorient 300 million euro to COVAX. This is Team Europe’s contribution to AVATT-COVAX’s cost-sharing rapid finance scheme. This scheme will help vaccine purchases in Africa. And it will foster links between COVAX and the African Union.”

This EIB EUR 300 million financing is the path forward towards an aggregate commitment of US$ 1 billion from Multilateral Development Banks and International Financing Institutions to support a cost-sharing initiative enabling AMC-eligible economies to use domestic resources to purchase additional vaccines through COVAX. This will facilitate them to take advantage of COVAX’s global logistics system, globally negotiated volume and prices, and other critical benefits such as the No Fault Compensation Scheme.

Commitments were also made to free up supply chains and remove bottle necks that restrict or slow down the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, raw materials and components. Vaccine manufacturers have reaffirmed their support to COVAX as the only global solution to ending the acute phase of the pandemic.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General: “Vaccinating the world relies on full support for COVAX. Fully financing the Advance Market Commitment is not charity. Only by working together can we end the pandemic and start building back our global community,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “This June, we must build on the momentum from this summit to secure COVAX the doses and funds needed to overcome its immediate supply gap and continue to build a sustainable pipeline into the future.”

The Summit was an opportunity for leaders to reflect on the challenges, successes and lessons learned as Gavi COVAX AMC marks one year since its launch; and look ahead to potential scenarios to address the pandemic and bolster global health security for the future.

The pledges, commitments and support from the global community at the Summit will enable COVAX to continue working towards keeping everyone safe.

The first international delivery of doses of COVID-19 vaccines supported by COVAX arrived in Ghana on February 24. As of today, more than 77 million doses have been shipped to 127 countries across six continents. Doses shared by countries will be used to make up for COVAX’s short-term supply disruption, which is expected to last into the third quarter of 2021.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Kanu Appears in Court, Pleads Not Guilty to Seven Count Charges

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Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, earlier today pleaded not guilty to the seven-count amended charge the Federal Government preferred against him.

Kanu, who was docked before trial Justice Binta Nyako, said he was innocent of all the allegations FG levelled against him after the charge was read to him in the open court.

His re-arraignment came on day the Department of State Services, DSS, blatantly refused to allow even a single journalist inside the courtroom.

Though this reporter and six other journalists were initially cleared at the main gate of the court to enter the premises, upon his arrival at the door leading to the courtroom, arm-wielding operatives of the secret service denied him entry.

The operatives insisted their action was based on “order from above”.

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Francis Megwa, an Inexperience Nigerian Doctor, Faces Panel in Ireland for Poor Professional Performance

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Francis Megwa, an inexperienced Nigerian doctor, described as ‘knowing next to nothing’ by doctors at University Maternity Hospital Limerick (UMHL) is facing the Irish medical panel for poor professional performance.

Dr. Megwa, who was fired by University Maternity Hospital Limerick (UMHL) for lacking basic medical knowledge claims he had always made the hospital authorities aware of his lack of experience.

Dr Francis Megwa told a medical inquiry that the panel who interviewed him for the job of senior house officer (SHO) at UMHL in April 2018 knew about his limitations but he still believed he was expected to improve “in days rather than months”.

A hearing of the Irish Medical Council’s fitness to practise (FTP) committee was informed that Dr Megwa had never worked in a paid role in a hospital since qualifying as a doctor in Romania in 2015.

“This was the level of experience I had before taking up the job which they knew,” Dr Megwa said.

A consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician who interviewed Dr Megwa for his post at UMHL in April 2018, Mendinaro Imcha, admitted the recruitment process could have been better but stated it had improved since the hospital had hired him.

The Nigerian-born doctor, who was placed on call on his first day in the job, is facing two charges of poor professional performance over his time working at UMHL between July 9, 2018, and August 14, 2018.

The IMC claims he failed to demonstrate basic competency in taking a patient’s clinical history, in diagnosing symptoms, inserting cannulas, and in prescribing common medication.

He is also charged with being unable to give a clear history about a pregnant woman who had presented at UMHL with vaginal bleeding or estimate her level of blood loss as well as failing to recommend appropriate treatment for her.

The inquiry heard earlier evidence from witnesses that Dr Megwa knew “near nothing”, was unable to take blood samples, and had to ask what an obstetrician was.

He was accused of incorrectly diagnosing the woman who was 35 weeks pregnant with a condition associated with the first weeks of pregnancy when she was actually suffering from a potential emergency complication.

The inquiry heard Dr Megwa had described working as a SHO with the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Scotland because he felt it was the “most appropriate term”.

Dr Imcha said his CV stated he had previous work experience as an SHO and had completed an internship at his medical school in Romania.

He was also registered with the Irish Medical Council (IMC) and had an EU medical qualification.

The FTP committee heard Dr Megwa had been ranked fourth out of five candidates on a panel to fill vacant SHO posts at UMHL.

He had been scored 55 out of 100 for his medical and diagnostic skills, 60 out of 100 for decision-making and initiative, and 70 out of 100 for communication and personal skills.

The interview panel had noted Dr Megwa was “short of experience but eager to work and learn”.

A member of the FTP committee, Veronica Larkin, said there appeared to be “a big mismatch” between the marks scored by Dr Megwa and his subsequent work performance.

Dr Imcha admitted she was “surprised and worried” when she was alerted within a few days of Dr Megwa taking up his post about problems with his performance, although she still wanted to give him a chance.

However, Dr Imcha said a decision was taken to assess the SHO’s competence after she was notified that his performance had not improved and other staff remained concerned about his treatment of patients.

Dr Imcha recalled how Dr Megwa, who had already been given an oral warning, struggled to answer questions based on what a final-year medical student should know, while she was also concerned that he was unable to specify the speciality he had done during his internship.

The consultant said she had made a complaint to the IMC about Dr Megwa as he lacked the basic knowledge expected of someone who had been to medical school for five or six years and completed an internship.

“We felt it may not be safe for him to continue,” she recalled.

Dr Imcha said she was unaware that Dr Megwa complained that he was shaking and panting with nerves during his assessment meeting.

Dr Megwa said he had learnt to take blood and fit cannulas after just a few days working at the hospital but claimed the only people who really helped him at UMHL were his fellow SHOs.

The hearing was adjourned until a future date.

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Nigeria, World Bank To Raise $30M For Vaccine Plant — Osinbajo

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The Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo said the federal government and the World Bank are working together to raise $30 million to fund a vaccine factory in the country.

VP Osinbajo discussed this on Monday in Abuja at the International Conference on “Access to Health and Socio-Economic Development Beyond Covid-19: The First Multisectoral Approach to Finding Solutions.”

The conference was organized by the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, NIPRD. He said the global health trend has made it essential for Nigeria to establish its own vaccine production facilities.

“Nigeria is in talks with the private lending arm of the World Bank and other lenders to raise around $30 million to help finance a vaccine factory.

“Bio-vaccine Nigeria Limited is chaired by Professor Oyewale Tomori; 49 percent of the company is owned by the Nigerian government with the remainder held by May and Baker Nigeria PLC and they are planning to start construction of a factory.

“ I believe in the first quarter of next year; the plant which is supposed to be located in Ota, Ogun State, will initially, we are told, fill and finish, which I’m also told, means importing the raw materials for the vaccines and then packaging them for distribution.

“Some South African companies are already involved in this task; I believe Aspen Pharmacare and Belvac Institute operate similar facilities.

“Full manufacturing, we are told, should follow in the months or years to come; I’m not quite sure when.

“So it’s obvious that the way forward is more funding for healthcare and research for innovators to develop solutions in pharmaceuticals and medical consumables.”

The Vice President said that through the discussion he had with NIPRD Director-General Dr. Obi Adigwe, he was inspired by the potential and the kind of support that the pharmaceutical industry and research agencies provided.

Osinbajo said the federal government established the Health Sector Intervention Fund which disbursed 76.9 billion naira, or about $185 million, to finance the acquisition and installation of critical medical care equipment.

He said the fund was also intended for the expansion of production lines at various pharmaceutical companies across the country.

According to him, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is also supporting a number of research and development initiatives in the health sector, as it has disbursed a total of 233 billion naira in grants.

Mr. Osinbajo said the NIPRD is also making immense contributions to developing a local cure for COVID-19.

“NIPRD has also developed an impressive variety of pharmaceutical products from indigenous resources and both the Niprimune and Niprimune plus both of which I have the pleasure of seeing, have been found to possess a reasonable property that is able to prevent or combat COVID-19.

“Both products, which have been registered by NAFDAC, are currently undergoing clinical studies at various levels with a view to production approval for emergency use.

“NIPRD Director-General Dr. Obi Adigwe assured that around the same time next year, the institute will launch three new products currently under development at its centers for nanomedicine, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“It is this proactive approach that we must adopt in the face of the slow access to vaccines in Africa and of course in Nigeria.

“Although we have received help from some friendly countries and the Covax alliance, less than 4 percent of our eligible population would have been vaccinated by the end of this year.

“There is no doubt that we cannot afford not to have our own vaccine production facilities.”

He said the COVID-19 pandemic was a revelation for him in five different ways: the unpreparedness of most developed economies; vaccine reluctance and the danger of conspiracy theory and misinformation, especially in a public health crisis.

VP Osinbajo said the fourth revelation was that, in terms of the COVID-19-wide global health crisis, help should not be expected.

“The fifth revelation is that despite infrastructure weaknesses, in Nigeria we have an experienced and robust public health system, populated by some of the best staff in the world.

“But more importantly, we have the opportunity to become one of the leading countries in healthcare,” he said.

Earlier, in his welcoming address, Adigwe said the conference was the first of its kind to bring together multidisciplinary academics to engage, innovate and synthesize new approaches to solving global health challenges.

Keynote speaker Prof Joseph Fortunak, who spoke virtually, said COVID-19 exposed the vulnerability of the pharmaceutical supply chain and urged Nigeria to take drug manufacturing seriously.

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