Nigeria on Friday recorded 41 cases of COVID-19. Here are five updates about the pandemic this Saturday, TheCable reports.
WHO names new COVID strain ‘Omicron’, says it’s ‘variant of concern’
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has named the new COVID-19 strain as ‘Omicron’ and classified it as a variant of concern.
On Thursday, South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) announced the discovery of the new variant, B.1.1.529, and said 22 positive cases of the strain had so far been detected in the country.
In a statement, WHO said the technical advisory group on SARS-CoV-2 virus evolution (TAG-VE), an independent group of experts that periodically monitors and evaluates the evolution of COVID-19, convened on Friday to assess the new variant.
“Based on the evidence presented indicative of a detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology, the TAG-VE has advised WHO that this variant should be designated as a VOC, and the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a VOC, named Omicron,” the statement reads.
Biden insists on intellectual property waivers on COVID vaccinesAdvertisement
United States President Joe Biden has asked countries scheduled to attend the World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting next week to waive intellectual property on COVID vaccines.
In a statement on Friday, Biden said the discovery of the new variant of COVID in South Africa shows that the pandemic will not end until all countries have equal access to vaccines.
“The news about this new variant should make clearer than ever why this pandemic will not end until we have global vaccinations,” Biden said.
“This news today reiterates the importance of moving on this quickly. I call on the nations gathering next week for the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting to meet the U.S. challenge to waive intellectual property protections for COVID vaccines, so these vaccines can be manufactured globally.
The states are Lagos (17), Plateau (10), Bauchi (4), Kano (4), Rivers (4), and Niger (2).
The NCDC said 20 people were discharged after they recovered from the infection.
No fatality was recorded as the deaths figure stands at 2,975.
South Africa tackles countries over travel ban
Joe Phaahla, health minister, says it is “unjustified, draconian and counterproductive” for countries to restrict travel from South Africa and its neighbours owing to the new COVID strain.
Several countries have banned travel from South Africa in an attempt to prevent the spread of Omicron, the new COVID strain.
Phaahla accused the countries of “finding scapegoats to deal with what is a worldwide problem”.
“We believe that some of the reactions have been unjustified”, Phaahla said.
India’s Serum Institute resumes COVID vaccine exports to COVAX
The Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, has resumed exports of COVID vaccines to the UN-backed COVAX distribution programme.
In May, SII suspended the distribution of COVID vaccines and focused on boosting the vaccination drive for Indians to battle a major spike in its infection rate.
Adar Poonawalla, SII’s chief executive, said the resumption of exports “will go a long way in restoring vaccine supply equality in the world”.
“It’s a huge moment to begin exports again, for us, our partners at COVAX and the low- and middle-income countries we support,” he said.