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AU: UNICEF To Supply 220m Doses Of Covid-19 Vaccine

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said, as the African continent faces steepest surge in Covid-19 and shortage of vaccine, it has signed an agreement with Janssen Pharmaceutical NV to supply 220 million doses of the J&J single-dose vaccine for all 55 member states of the African Union (AU) by the end of 2022.
According to a press statement made available through its media representative in Africa, about 35 million doses are to be delivered by the end of this year, as the agreement secured an option to order another 180 million doses, bringing the maximum access up to a total of 400 million doses by the end of next year.
The statement noted that the agreement between UNICEF and Janssen Pharmaceutical NV would help implement the Advance Purchase Commitment (APC) signed between the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and Janssen in March of this year.
It further noted that UNICEF will procure and deliver Covid-19 vaccines on behalf of AVAT, an African Union initiative.
Other partners include the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the World Bank. While multiple vaccines are anticipated to be part of the initiative’s portfolio, Janssen’s single-dose vaccine is the first to be included.
“African countries must have affordable and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines as soon as possible. Vaccine access has been unequal and unfair, with less than 1 per cent of the population of the African continent currently vaccinated against Covid-19. This cannot continue,” UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, stressed.
“UNICEF, with its long history of delivering vaccines all around the world, is supporting global Covid-19 vaccinations efforts through AVAT, COVAX, and other channels to maximise supply and access to vaccines.
Drawing upon decades of experience as the largest single vaccine buyer in the world, as it does annually for routine immunisation, UNICEF said, it is acting as a procurement and logistics agency on behalf of the AVAT partnership.
UNICEF however, stated that it stood ready to facilitate the procurement, transport and delivery of vaccines as soon as they became available and AU Member States were ready to receive them.
With its extensive capacity and decades of expertise in managing freight, insurance and transport of vaccines, which require strict adherence to cold chain requirements, UNICEF will work with the vaccine industry, freight forwarders and transport companies to get the doses to the communities that need them.
Janssen’s Covid-19 vaccine received a WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL) on 12 March and is relying on a global supply network to produce the vaccine. The latest site for production, Aspen Pharmacare in Gqeberha, South Africa, was approved by the WHO on 29 June. Deliveries of the vaccine are expected to begin later in the 3rd quarter of 2021, with allocations to be determined by the Africa CDC.
In addition to its role in this partnership, UNICEF is also a key implementing partner for the COVAX Facility led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, WHO and CEPI. Under this initiative, UNICEF has contributed to the delivery of more than 100 million doses to 135 countries. UNICEF’s role procuring and delivering Covid-19 vaccines on behalf of AVAT will complement and supplement the shared COVAX goal of ensuring equitable access to quality-assured Covid-19 vaccines.
“Vaccinating the world against Covid-19, as the virus continues to spread and mutate, is one of the largest and most complex collective health undertakings the world has ever seen, and we need all hands on deck,” said Fore.
“In the race to defeat this virus, equity is not a ‘nice to have’- it’s an absolute necessity. This pandemic has cost everyone something, and some people everything. Only together can we bring the suffering to an end,” the statement stressed.

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Niger Delta

Eno Sacks Commissioner For Special Duties

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Akwa Ibom State Governor, Umo Eno has relieved the Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr Bassey Okon, of his appointment with immediate effect.
Secretary to the State Government, Mr Enobong Uwah, disclosed this in a statement in Uyo on Monday.
Uwah, who did not give reasons for the commissioner’s sack, directed him to hand over all state government properties in his possession to the Permanent Secretary.
He thanked the former commissioner for the period he served the state, and wished him well in his future endeavours.

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Niger Delta

Check Oil Pollution In N’Delta, Stakeholders Urge Oil Firms

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Stakeholders in host communities have demanded that oil companies be compelled to address adverse health impact of oil exploration in the Niger-Delta.
They made their position known on Monday during a public presentation of the research report on the impact of oil extraction on women’s health in Otuabagi community in Bayelsa.
The Tide’s source reports that Dr Emem Okon, Director, Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, an NGO, championed the event.
The source also reports that Otuabagi Community within the Oloibiri District in present Ogbia Local Government Area is where crude oil was discovered in commercial quantity in Nigeria in 1956.
Okon said the report highlighted the adverse consequences of oil extraction which had profound negative impact on health and livelihood of women in Otuabagi community.
She said research revealed that several of the participants had hydrocarbons in their blood sample more than World Health Organisation (WHO) threshold and therefore demanded for compensation from oil companies and government.
“There is, therefore, a need to demand for compensation and restoration of polluted sites as well as health actions to keep us alive and to resist death, poverty and injustice”, she said.
She stated that the findings and data would serve as a tool for policy makers, community leaders and all those who strove for a more equitable and sustainable future.
Meanwhile, Dr Bieye Briggs, a public health physician and head of the research team, said from the findings of the report, it was revealed that there was very high and unacceptable level of exposure of the people to hydrocarbons.
Briggs advocated for the Federal Government to carry out health audit in Otuabagi community and other oil producing areas in the Niger-Delta region.
He explained that such audit was with a view to instituting intervention program to halt and reverse the impact of oil exploration.
Similarly, Chief Daniel Amangi, the traditional ruler of Otuabagi community, commended Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre for undertaking the project and urged the Federal Government to focus on developing the community.
Amangi also called for the immediate implementation of the recommendations of the research findings for the overall benefit of the people.
In the same vein, Alagoa Morris, a stakeholder, lamented that life expectancy was lower in the Niger-Delta region than in other parts of the country due to the hazards caused by oil exploration.
He called for compensation to be paid to host communities to ameliorate the health impact of oil extraction in the region.
The ceremony also featured a drama presentation by Otuabagi women and panel discussion on the findings of the report.

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Niger Delta

Court Orders AAU Graduate’s Car, iPhone’s Forfeiture To FG

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A Benin High Court on Monday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to sell a Toyota Venza 2012 model, recovered from a graduate of Biochemistry from Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, Osadolor Edomwonyi.
The EFCC charged Edomwonyi with internet fraud.
Delivering judgment, Justice Efe Ikponmwonba, sentenced Edomwonyi to three years imprisonment.
The judge also ordered the forfeiture of an iPhone 13 Promax, recovered from the convict .
He also ordered that balances in his Opay account, Kids Bank account and Access Bank with which he was charged and convicted to the Federal Government through EFCC and the accounts be parmanently closed.
The convict prayed the court for a plea bargain agreement.
Ikponmwonba, however, gave him an option of fine in the sum of N100,000.
Earlier, the EFCC counsel, Mr I K Agwaisaid, said the convict committed an offence contrary to the provisions of Sections 6 and 8 (b) of the advance free fraud and other fraud-related offences Act 2006 and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.
The prosecutor said in a plea bargain agreement, Edomwonyi pleaded guilty to the one-count charge of possession of fraudulent documents.

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