YULETIDE SEASON AND THE RISK OF COVID-19 FOURTH WAVE
The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu during the inauguration of the Lagos State mass vaccination on Victoria Island on October 27 warned of the possibility of the fourth wave of COVID-19 as the yuletide season fast approaches.
He stated that “There is potential for the fourth wave of COVID-19, as our borders will be opened to all people coming into Lagos in December. To prevent the catastrophic events we witnessed in the previous waves, the state has developed a robust vaccination drive.”
“To militate against this potential damage that will further spread existing variants of COVID-19 in the state and accelerate efforts towards herd immunity, the need for a different strategy became a front-burner issue. This is what has culminated in the campaign tagged, ‘Count Me In! Four million Lagosians Vaccinated against COVID-19,’ to target the full vaccination of four million Lagos residents before the end of December 2021. Once achieved, this will bring the state closer to reaching our promise to vaccinate 30 per cent of our population within one year.”
In what experts term “massive pandemic of the unvaccinated”, COVID-19 has assumed an accelerated dimension exceeding daily record cases ever witnessed since the inception of the disease.
Germany recently recorded almost 34,000 daily COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, its highest number so far as 16 million Germans have not had a jab.
However, the COVID-19 numbers in Germany rank second to the UK’s latest daily cases at more than 37,000.
The current increase in daily cases recorded globally has elicited fears that in health practitioners that the fourth wave of infection would leave a more fatal blow than prior waves, with great pressure on the health system.
Europe head, Hans Kluge aligned his fear with the World Health Organization that due to insufficient vaccine take-up, there is a possibility of half a million more deaths in Europe by February 2022.
The projected Europe death rate according to the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, is based on the record that over the past four weeks, cases across Europe had soared over 55%, despite an “ample supply of vaccines and tools”.
Against the backdrop of the trend analysis above, Mike Ryan, a WHO health expert alerts that Europe’s experience was a “warning shot for the world”.
In confirming the relationship of the spike in new cases and increased death rate with low rate vaccination, Hans Kluge points out that the surge in cases is not confined to Germany.
Countries that have very low rates of vaccination have witnessed heightened cases of fatalities in the past week with Russia having 8,100 deaths and Ukraine announcing a record 27,377 new cases in the past 24 hours and 3,800 deaths.
With the European experience as a warning shot to the world, the Federal Government commits to engage the Nigeria Governors’ Forum on mass vaccination of citizens. It restated the December 1 deadline for federal civil servants to take the COVID-19 vaccines. This is coming on the heels of statistics that only 2.9% have been fully vaccinated to date.
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It is therefore not surprising that taking the lead, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has unveiled the campaign ‘Count Me In! Four million Lagosians Vaccinated against COVID-19,’ with an objective aimed at vaccinating four million residents in Lagos before the end of 2021.
In order to ensure total compliance, the government warns that vaccination records/certificates would be verified to detect unscrupulous citizens who procure such cards through the black market, as severe consequences would be meted out accordingly.
As an indication of the ravaging presence of the pandemic, Nigeria has in the past two weeks (November 1 – 15) recorded 1,290 new cases, confirming the need for everyone to still maintain social distancing and other non-pharmaceutical protocols, vaccinated or otherwise.
The above statistics may not be unconnected why the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has said the partial or full vaccination against the dreaded COVID-19 is not enough reason to drop non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) guard or a guarantee against infection.
“The present infection surge in certain European countries, which already had vaccination over 60 per cent, is proof that full vaccination is no reason to drop our guard or a guarantee against infection,” Ehanire said.
”Global trends suggest that public health measures like masks and social distancing are still very useful protection against infection,” he further emphasized.
Therefore, in order to assist the FG to achieve the 2022 deadline to end the pandemic, there is a need for all hands to be on deck in promoting massive vaccination as well as creating awareness on the need to still maintain non-pharmaceutical protocols always.