0.5% Nigerians tested nearly one year into COVID-19 fight

Lara Adejoro

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has reported 103,999 total number of COVID-19 infections in the country since the first case of the infection was reported on February 27, 2020.

The figure was as of midnight of Wednesday, January 13.

The country has also discharged 82,555 patients that had been treated and cured; while 1,382 deaths had been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

Also, the country currently has 20,062 active cases of the viral infection.

The country has tested only 1,033,858 people, a figure that represents only 0.5 percent of Nigeria’s 206 million population, according to the National Population Commission.

Recall that the index case was a 44-year old Italian citizen diagnosed with COVID-19 in Lagos State.

The case is the first to be reported in Nigeria since the first confirmed case was reported from China in January 2020.

According to the NCDC, the case arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos at 10 pm on 24th February, 2020 aboard a Turkish airline from Milan, Italy.

“He travelled on to his company site in Ogun state on 25th February. On 26th February, he presented at the staff clinic in Ogun and there was a high index of suspicion by the managing physician. He was referred to Infectious Disease Hospital, Lagos, and COVID-19 was confirmed on 27th February,” the agency said.

Nigeria’s coronavirus index case, 44-year-old unnamed Italian man (arrowed); Lagos State Commissioner of Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi (in white shirt & tie) and state officials after the discharge of the COVID-19 patient from the Mainland Hospital, Yaba, Lagos. File photo: Gov. Sanwo-Olu/Twitter handle

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has budgeted N400bn ($1.053bn) for the procurement and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines, though the costs of vaccines vary, depending on the type.

The cost for each dose ranges from three dollars to $37, according to an online portal healthline.

“The Pfizer vaccine, also given in two doses, is expected to cost $19.50 per dose.

“Each dose for Johnson & Johnson’s two-dose vaccine will cost an estimated $10, and AstraZeneca’s two-dose vaccine could be the cheapest at just three or four dollars per dose.

“Novavax’s two-dose vaccine is estimated to be $16 a dose,” the online portal noted.

If one person is to take the two required doses of the Pfizer vaccine, only 27 million Nigerians will be vaccinated.

So, the $1.053bn FG budgeted for the procurement and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines will cover only 13 percent of the total population of Nigerians if it goes for Pfizer-BioNTech brand.

However, if the Federal Government goes for the Johnson & Johnson’s brand of COVID-19 vaccine at $10 per dose, 52.6 million Nigerians or 25.53 percent of the population will be covered.

For the two doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, 131.6 million people will get the vaccine at the cost of $4 per dose.

So, with the AstraZeneca brand, the proposed COVID-19 vaccine budget will cover 63.88 percent of the total population of Nigerians.

For the two doses of Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine, 32.91 million people will be vaccinated at the cost of $16 per dose.

Hence, the fund will cover 15.97 percent of the total population of Nigerians if the country settles for the Novavax brand.

Meanwhile, 204,966,142 people are yet to be tested for COVID-19 in the country, which represents 99.5 percent of the entire population.

In its assessments of the global COVID-19 pandemic situation, online portal, Our World In Data, states, “No country knows the total number of people infected with COVID-19.

“All we know is the infection status of those who have been tested. All those who have a lab-confirmed infection are counted as confirmed cases.

“This means that the counts of confirmed cases depend on how much a country actually tests. Without testing there is no data.”

Speaking further, the global nongovernmental organisation says, “Testing is our window onto the pandemic and how it is spreading.

“Without data on who is infected by the virus, we have no way of understanding the pandemic.

“Without this data, we can not know which countries are doing well, and which are just underreporting cases and deaths.

“To interpret any data on confirmed cases, we need to know how much testing for COVID-19 the country actually does.”

Last December 24, Director General of the National Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said there had been huge increase in the number of samples sent to the agency’s national reference laboratory from several states and the Federal Capital Territory.

He said this had led to “an unusual delay with testing.”

“But we’re working round the clock. Many have cut short first leave of the year and returned to work,” Iheweazu said in a tweet via his verified Twitter handle @Chikwe_I.

Two months prior, precisely on October 13, the agency said it was working hard to address the decline in testing for COVID-19 in some states in the country.

According to the NCDC DG, even though some states had continued to test huge numbers for COVID-19, there had been a serious decline in some states because sample collection had reduced.

It should be recalled that the National Coordinator, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, had also decried the lack of testing in most states of the federation.

In a story published by PUNCH HealthWise, Aliyu had alerted that there were states in the country that were not disclosing what they were doing to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have a lot of silent states that we have no idea what is going on with them. But, we shall continue to work with the states to make sure testing is accessible to the people.

“If we want to avoid the second wave. The first thing is the issue of testing. We cannot define our problem without really looking at it. That is why testing is important,” Aliyu had said.

Nigeria has since plunged into second wave of the virus, with the attendant rising infection figures.

On January 4, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said Nigeria had over 100 public and private laboratories across all the states for the testing of COVID-19.

He disclosed this at a media briefing on Monday in Lagos, as reported by the News Agency of Nigeria.

A few days later on January 8, NCDC said increasing national testing capacity for COVID-19 will enable understanding of its burden.

The Head of Department, Surveillance and Epidemiology Department, NCDC, Mrs. Elsie Ilori, made this known on Thursday in Abuja at a briefing by the Presidential Tasks Force on COVID-19.

Ilori noted that in the last 24 hours, Nigeria recorded 1,664 new confirmed cases.

“Last week, over 40,000 tests were done. This is more than 10 per cent increase in the testing done the week before.

“Since the start of the outbreak, we have worked tirelessly to achieve this (increased testing) through rapid expansion of laboratories and increased surveillance activities.

“This is enabling prompt detection of cases even at our points of entry,” she said.

Meanwhile, experts warn that testing rate for COVID-19 in Nigeria is still very poor amid surge in new cases of the viral infection.

They identified poor testing as part of the reasons why the country is experiencing a second wave of the infection, warning that handling the second wave might be more difficult if the government fails to prioritise testing.

A General Medical Practitioner, Dr. Julius Osuntuyi, said, “Nigeria has not been very active in testing and this is one of the reasons why we are experiencing the second wave.”

Continuing, Osuntuyi said, “When we don’t test, we don’t know the level of exposure that we have. Now, because testing rate is very poor, we don’t really know the true situation of things.

“To prevent the escalation of this second wave, the government must prioritise testing.”

Copyright PUNCH

All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.

Contact: health_wise@punchng.com

The post 0.5% Nigerians tested nearly one year into COVID-19 fight appeared first on Healthwise.

No Responses

Write a response