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Six UK COVID-19 variants discovered in Lagos – FG

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The Federal Government on Monday said it had identified six additional cases of the UK COVID-19 variants in Lagos, bringing the total number of the variants in the country to 13.

It said further genomic sequencing, especially of positive samples from travellers from the United Kingdom and South Africa, had been intensified.

The dominant strain in South Africa, the government explained, had yet to be detected in the country.

Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu; Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, among others, stated this during the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 briefing in Abuja.

Other speakers included the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 Pandemic and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha. and the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) Dr. Faisal Shuaib.

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They said the Federal Government had concluded negotiations with Russia and India for additional vaccines to boost the country’s efforts at inoculating Nigerians against the virus.

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), they explained, will evaluate all vaccines to ensure that they are safe and efficacious for the predominant strain in the country.

Ihekweazu said:

“This week, we detected six additional samples of the b117 variant in Nigeria. The b117 is now the dominant strain in the UK. These six new cases were detected in Lagos.

“In total, we now have 13 of these b117 strains in Nigeria: six from Lagos, five in Osun, one in Kwara, and one in a patient from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Abuja.

“We have not yet detected any of the b1351 strain, which is the dominant strain in South Africa. We will keep looking as we intensify our sequencing activities over the next few weeks.

“Within the NCDC and our partners, over the next few weeks, we are increasing our genomics surveillance to make sure we can increase our capacity to systematically sequence samples and see whether any of these variants of concern are still circulating in Nigeria.”

Ehanire said Nigeria had subscribed to two multilateral vaccine access platforms.

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He added:

“The first being the Covax facility that will supply members, including Nigeria, vaccines free of charge, to cover 20 per cent of our population. The expected first wave of 100,000 vaccines derived from this facility.

“There has since been a change that now offers Nigeria 16 million vaccine doses in the first half of the year.”

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