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COVID-19: Nigeria Acquires Ultra Cold Freezers To Store Pfizer Vaccine

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As COVID-19 vaccines are currently being rolled out globally, Nigeria has acquired the ultra-cold freezers needed to store the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines when they finally arrive in the country.

A visit to the country’s vaccine storage facility on Tuesday showed that there are three Ultra-cold freezers needed to store the doses of vaccines expected by the end of January.

The National Strategic Cold Store located a few miles from the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport is where all vaccines are stored on arrival into the country. The vaccines are then distributed to various zones and states across the country.

The Nigerian government said it will receive at least 100,000 doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech approved COVID-19 vaccines by the end of January through the COVAX co-financing public-private facility.

A check by this newspaper in December 2020 showed that the country’s National Strategic Cold Store does not have the capacity to effectively store the vaccines.

The facility houses 11 walk-in cold room refrigerators and four walk-in freezer rooms.

But there were no ultra-cold freezers much needed to store some of the frontrunners such as the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, according to Iyabo Daradara, Director, Logistics and Health Commodities at the National primary HealthCare Development Agency (NPHCDA).

“The National Strategic cold store has 11 walk-in cold rooms refrigerators which store at +2 to +8 and four walk-in freezer rooms which are used for vaccines that need freezing.

“We do not have ultra-cold freezers in the country,” she said in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES.

Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Faisal Shuaib, said the country now has enough capacity to store the vaccines.

“Each of this ultra-cold freezer has 700 litres capacity, that is a total of 2,100 capacity. The requirement for the 100,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines that will be available by the end of January/February is 500 liters, so we have enough capacity for the 100,000 doses,” Mr Shuaib said on Tuesday while addressing journalists at the facility.

He said the ultracold chain storage was only required at the national level and six zonal stores where the vaccines can be stored for a longer period.

He explained that the Pfizer vaccine can be stored for five days at plus two to eight degrees outside of the ultracold chain, which is suitable especially in rural areas.

“Pfizer has informed us that the COVID-19 vaccine can be stored for five days at plus two to eight degrees outside of the ultracold chain, which is suitable especially at a low level,” Mr Shuiab said.

“This means that the ultracold chain storage is only required at the national level and six zonal stores where the vaccines can be stored for a longer period, the vaccines then will be transferred to lower levels using dry ices in isolated dry thermals when they are ready to be deployed.”

He said the federal government was working with states to ensure vaccines are safely distributed to every part of the country.

“The private sector will be providing dry ices. This is what we need to keep the vaccines potent when they are taken out of the cold chain equipment. So we can move them to the states, LGAs, and health facilities where they will be utilized.”

Mr Shuaib noted that Nigeria already has a storage facility for other approved vaccines and are making efforts to get some of them. This, he said, led to less investment in ultracold chain equipment.

“Apart from the Pfizer vaccines, there are other vaccines in the portfolio of the COVAX and other vaccine candidates. Our plan is not to over-invest in ultracold chain equipment given that there are other vaccines that can be kept between + 2 and + 8 degree Celsius,” he said.

There are other approved vaccines that do not require expensive storage facilities like the Pfizer and bioNTech vaccine.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, for instance, has lower interim efficacy results but offers the best possibility for distribution in Nigeria because the temperature required is not as low and manufacturers can produce it at a lower price.

Mr Shuaib said the government would be focusing on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that requires + 2 to + 8 degrees Celsius.

He reiterated that all imported vaccines will be tested by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) and certified safe for human use before it is administered.

“We will like to assure all Nigerians that this verification exercise will also be applicable to the COVID-19 vaccine and NAFDAC will continue to monitor the efficacy of the vaccine even after its administration to ensure proper documentation of any side effects,” he said.

BIG STORY

Alert! Criminal Elements Planning Attacks On Six Airports, Says FG

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The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) says it has received an alert from the ministry of aviation over planned attacks on airports across the country.

This was contained in a memo signed by S.M. Mamman, FAAN deputy general manager of administration and logistics, and addressed to airport chiefs of security.

According to the document dated April 9, 2021, airports on the list include those in Kaduna, Maiduguri, Sokoto, Kano, Abuja, and Lagos.

“I am directed to convey an alert from the Ministry of Aviation regarding security threats by criminal elements against Airports in Nigeria and to request for the immediate enumeration of necessary countermeasures for the protection of Airports/Facilities under your purview,” the memo reads.

“Specifically, the Airports top on the list for which criminals are considering carrying out attacks include those in Kaduna, Maiduguri, Sokoto, Kano, Abuja, and Lagos amongst others. However, all airports are hereby alerted and requested to operate at a heightened threat level.”

The airport chiefs have been directed to “submit a list of existing and additional countermeasures to address the threats, along with their cost implications where applicable”.

Also, they are expected to urgently convene an emergency meeting of airport security committees “to review the status of airport security, jointly recommend appropriate measures and share responsibility for effective implementation”.

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Arewa Community In Lagos Launches Tinubu Support Group

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Arewa community in Lagos State has urged All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to run for president in 2023.

At a rally in Coker-Aguda and Itire-Ikate Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) of Lagos State to launch a Tinubu support group, the Arewa people said Tinubu possessed the quality needed to continue President Muhammadu Buhari’s developmental projects.

Their leader, Ahmed Abdullahi, noted that the former Lagos State governor had paid his dues in the political terrain; hence he deserved to lead the country.

He said Asiwaju Tinubu remained the most competent person to take over from President Buhari.

“We saw how he transformed Lagos State and made it a place for all to earn a living. He did not discriminate against any tribe by making Lagos home for all of us. We are telling the world; especially the people in the North that Asiwaju (Tinubu) can be trusted. We saw how he stood by President Buhari even when people were against him. This is the time for the North to return good for good because we are not known for betraying people,” he said.

Abdullahi said Coker-Aguda LCDA was picked for the launch because the council chairman is also a detribalized woman.

“She has made Coker-Aguda a home to all Nigerians by appointing non-Yoruba as special advisers,” he said.

Coker-Aguda LCDA Chairman Mrs Omobolanle Akinyemi-Obe thanked the Arewa community for launching a support group for Tinubu.

She said all ethnic groups in the council are routing for Tinubu to run for the president.

“We have confidence in Asiwaju Tinubu to lead our country to greater height and bring smiles to the faces of Nigerians,” she said.

Her counterpart in Itire-Ikate LCDA, Dr. Ahmed Apatira, described Asiwaju Tinubu as the best man to take over from President Buhari.

He said all tribes in the council are ready to support Asiwaju Tinubu.

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South-East Governors Establish ‘Ebube Agu’, Regional Security Outfit, To Rout Criminals

Peter Okunoren

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South-east governors yesterday rolled out a raft of policy decisions, including the establishment of a regional security outfit, ‘Ebube Agu,’ to combat the security challenges facing the zone.

The outfit, with headquarters at Enugu, will complement the efforts of federal security agencies in tackling the security challenges in the region.

The governors, in a communiqué issued in Owerri at the end of a meeting, asked the heads of security agencies in the zone to draw up a comprehensive list of their logistics and material needs that will enhance their efficiency in combating the security challenges in the zone, so that the governors could provide them.

The meeting was the first gathering of the governors since last week’s attacks by gunmen who invaded the headquarters of the state police command, torching about 100 vehicles and freeing some detainees.

The gunmen also attacked the Imo State Correctional Centre and released over 1,800 inmates.

In the communiqué read by the Chairman of the South-east Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Mr. Dave Umahi, the governors aligned themselves with the efforts of the federal government to find the solution to the security challenges in the country.

They condemned what they called terrorism and banditry in any part of Nigeria, particularly in the South-east.

They condemned the recent burning of police stations, violent attacks on custodial centers with the unlawful release of inmates, and the killing of security personnel, natives/farmers, and herdsmen.

The governors said they were on the same page with the federal government on the need to tackle the security challenges in the country.

They committed themselves to join the federal government to fight terrorists and bandits.

They also “resolved to bring together all the arsenals at their command, as one united zone, to fight and flush out criminals and terrorists from the zone.”

The communiqué noted that to achieve this, “there is a need to galvanize all the relevant stakeholders in the South-east, the political class, the business community, the bureaucrats and the intelligentsia to provide all necessary support to security operatives in the five South-east states to ensure total success in the fight against criminality in the zone.”

According to the communiqué, “The heads of all the security agencies in the South-east have resolved to exchange intelligence in a seamless, effective new order that will help to checkmate crime in the zone.

“To fast-track crime-busting in the South-east, the heads of security agencies have been mandated to draw up a comprehensive list of their logistics and material needs for sustainable success in the fight against criminality, for the immediate provision by the leadership of the South-east.”

The governors also resolved to set up a committee comprising security personnel, government officials and stakeholders, to coordinate and monitor the implementation of the Southeast joint security platform.

The governors applauded the initiative of the South-east security summit and to make it a statutory summit that would convene every quarter while its hosting shall rotate among the five South-east states.

“The meeting resolved to maintain a joint security vigilante for the South-east otherwise known as Ebube Agu. The meeting appreciated the formation of South-east joint security outfit code-named Ebube Agu, with headquarters in Enugu to coordinate our vigilante in the South-east,” the communiqué explained.

The governors also requested the Acting Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mr. Usman Baba, to stop the influx of IG monitoring units and allow police commissioners and state and zonal commands to handle their cases.

The governors also requested Baba and other security chiefs to invite the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to find out the reason for the increasing insecurity of the region.

They also agreed that military policing in the South-east should be adequately funded to become effective.

“Meeting agreed that open grazing has been banned and the security agency should implement the ban.

“The meeting encouraged a peaceful co-existence of farmers and herders to allow governors to succeed in the fight against criminality,” the communiqué added.

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