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New Serun Trial Set To End Ebola Scourge

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A new drug known as ZMapp is being developed by a US Biotech company, Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc to check the deadly Ebola virus.
This is coming two days after two American humanitarian medical personnel working in Liberia and Sierra Leonne, Dr Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were flown to the United States after contracting the virus.
Brantly is said to be back on his feet  after receiving the highly experimental drug. Brantly and Writebol’s conditions significantly improved after receiving the medication, sources say.
Until it was administered on the two medical personnel, ZMapp has not been approved for human use and has not even gone through the clinical trial process, which is standard to prove the safety and efficacy of a medication. It may have been given under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “compassionate use” regulation, which allows access to investigational drugs outside clinical trials.
Getting approval for compassionate use is often long and laborious, but in the case of Brantly and Writebol, they received the medication within seven to 10 days of their exposure to the Ebola virus.
The experimental drug, known as ZMapp, was developed by the biotech firm Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., which is based in San Diego. The patients were told that the treatment had never been tried before in a human being but had shown promise in small experiments with monkeys.
According to company documents, four monkeys infected with Ebola survived after being given the therapy within 24 hours after infection. Two of four other monkeys that started therapy within 48 hours after infection also survived. One monkey that was not treated died within five days of exposure to the virus.
Already, the disease has claimed over 1603 lives according to World Health Organisation (WHO) records. The disease has ravaged many West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and recently in Nigeria after a Liberian diplomat, Mr Patrick Sawyer died in Lagos after arriving in the country.
Hope had risen last week after a report indicated that scientists in the country have found cure for the disease. The report claimed a compound from Garcinia Kola (Bitter Kola), a plant commonly eaten in West Africa.
Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Iwu had led the research with a team of other scientists commissioned by the Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme in the USA.
The research was started 10 years ago, but Prof Iwu, who is currently with the Pharmagnosy Department in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka said the work was inconclusive.
He believed that further trials will lead to development of a drug in the future.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu has debunked reports that bitter kola can be used to cure the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
“As the minister of health, there is no scientific proof to show that bitter kola can be used for prevention or cure of Ebola virus,” Chukwu said.
He made the disclosure on Monday after a medical doctor who treated Mr Sawyer in Lagos was said to have shown signs of contracting the disease
Already,  health authorities has kept under strict surveillance the 65 persons who made contact with the dead Liberian to avert further spread of the epidemic.
The minister said that efforts were being made to find a vaccine that could help in prevention of the disease and possibly its cure.
He said while health personnel were carrying out screenings at the borders, a technical working group will be inaugurated soon.
He also said directives have been issued that all dead bodies from the three endemic countries, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia should not be brought back into Nigeria.
The three countries, where more than 1200 people have been infected so far with the deadly virus, have recorded over 700 deaths due to the disease.
Ebola is said to be transmitted from fruit bats and apes to humans who hunt them for food and is further spread to other humans when they come in contact with the blood or body fluid of an infected person.
Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, chills, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, backache, and joint pains.
Later symptoms include bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose, bleeding from the mouth and rectum, eye swelling, swelling of the genitals and bloody rashes all over the body. There is no drug or vaccine yet to treat the virus that has an over 60 per cent fatality.

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IPPIS: FG, ASUU Meet, Today, As Fresh Strike Looms

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Delegations from the Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are expected to meet, today, in a bid to avert a fresh strike.
The chairmen of ASUU branches had expressed readiness to commence a fresh strike over the non-implementation of their agreement with FG on IPPIS.
One of them, Chairman, ASUU, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Dr Ibrahim Inuwa, said the protracted strike, which was to press home the union members’ demands for the continued survival of the public university system in Nigeria, was suspended in December after the two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the various issues and providing timelines for the implementation of each of the eight items in the agreement.
Inuwa said over seven months after the MoU was signed only two out of the eight issues had been addressed.
He listed some of the outstanding issues to include payment of the earned academic allowance, funding for revitalisation of public universities, salary shortfall, proliferation of state universities and setting up of visitation panels.
Others are renegotiation, replacement of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) with the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) and withheld salaries and non-remittance of check-off dues.
A statement by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr. Charles Akpan, said the Minister of Labour, Senator Chris Ngige, will be hosting the leadership of the ASUU to a meeting at the ministry’s Conference Room, Federal Secretariat in Abuja.
“The Minister for Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, will be hosting a meeting with ASUU. The meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 2, 2021 at Minister’s Conference Room,” the letter read.
The National President, ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, had said that the union was invited by the Ministry of Labour to discuss issues surrounding the Memorandum of Action, which was signed with the Federal Government in December, 2020.
However, Osodeke, explained the last time the union met with the government was around March/April.
He said, “The Ministry of Education, which is our ministry, has not called us to any meeting since we signed the Memorandum of Action. But the Ministry of Labour, which is just an intervention ministry, around March/April called us to a meeting in which we discussed and they promised to implement all those things.”

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30 Of 65 Private Jets In Nigeria Owe Duties, Customs Insists

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The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says 30 out of 65 private airplanes verified owe duties to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Public Relations Officer, Joseph Attah, made the disclosure to newsmen, yesterday.
He said some of the airplanes came into the country by Temporary Importation Agreement which allows them in without payment because it was secured by bond.
The spokesman noted that many later fail to turn up to pay on the expiration of the agreement.
The customs explained that the verification was not meant to embarrass anyone but to collect payments due to the government.
The service has given another two-week extension which commenced from Monday, July 26, to Friday, August 6.
Attah said with the increasing economic challenge, every revenue is important.
“With this, you can now tie proper ownership to every aircraft or private jet that flies in and out of the country.
“The owners of private jets are highly placed Nigerians who should be respected and approached in a manner that provides convenience. That is what these extensions stand for,” he added.

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FBI Indictment: PSC, IGP Suspend Kyari, Name Inquiry Panel

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The Police Service Commission (PSC) has suspended embattled Deputy Commissioner of Police and Head, Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Nigeria Police Force, Abba Kyari, from the exercise of the powers and functions of his office.
Kyari’s suspension was contained in a press statement by the commission’s Head, Press and Public Relations, Ikechukwu Ani, made available to newsmen, yesterday.
The commission said Abba Kyari’s suspension took effect from Saturday, July 31, 2021, and would subsist pending the outcome of the investigation in respect of his indictment by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States.
The commission has also directed the Inspector General of Police to furnish it with information on further development on the matter for necessary further action.
The commission’s decision which was conveyed in a letter with reference, PSC/POL/D/153/vol/V/138 to the Inspector General of Police today, Sunday, August 1st, 2021, was signed by Hon. Justice Clara Bata Ogunbiyi, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court and Honourable Commissioner 1 in the commission for the commission’s Chairman, Alhaji Musiliu Smith, a retired Inspector General of Police who is currently on leave.
Earlier, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, had recommended the immediate suspension of DCP Abba Kyari from the service of the Nigeria Police Force, pending the report of the four-man investigative panel constituted to probe him.
A statement by the spokesperson of the Force, CP Frank MBA, last Saturday, the IGP, in his letter to the Police Service Commission (PSC), dated July 31, 2021, noted that the recommendation is in line with the internal disciplinary processes of the force.
According to the IGP, the suspension would also create an enabling environment for the NPF Special Investigation Panel, to carry out its investigations into the allegations against Kyari without interference.
He explained that the suspension is without prejudice to the constitutional presumption of innocence in favour of the officer, the statement said.
The four-man Special Investigation Panel (SIP), is headed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police in-charge of the Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID), DIG Joseph Egbunike.
“The SIP is to undertake a detailed review of all the allegations against DCP Abba Kyari by the US Government as contained in relevant documents that have been availed the NPF by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
“The SIP is also to obtain detailed representation of DCP Abba Kyari to all the allegations levelled against him, conduct further investigations as it deems fit, and submit recommendations to guide further actions by the Force leadership on the matter,” Mba said.
Meanwhile, the IGP has reaffirmed the commitment of the force to the rule of law, and assured the public of the sanctity of the probe as well as the absolute respect for the rights and privileges of the officer throughout the period of the investigations.

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