Delta variant now most dominant COVID-19 strain in Nigeria

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The Delta variant of COVID-19 has been identified as the most dominant strain in Nigeria, as Africa’s most populous country continues to take measures to level out the third wave of infections, said Health Minister Osagie Ehanire.

Since late June, data by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) indicated a surge in COVID-19 cases and fatalities, a development that has brought renewed pressure on the health system, compounded by an ongoing industrial action by resident doctors in the country.

“Evidence so far is that the Delta strain is already the dominant one in Nigeria. We must keep our protective measures in place and increase testing to determine our situation,” said Ehanire, who spoke in Abuja on Monday evening, at a daily press conference on COVID-19.

The health minister noted, however, that “the dreaded third wave of COVID-19 may appear to be leveling out in the country because there had been no catastrophic increases in infections and fatalities.”

He said with reports of new coronavirus mutations circulating in other countries, the health authorities in Nigeria will continue to monitor with all the tools available, to respond appropriately when necessary.

The west African country on Monday reported 387 new infections and 21 deaths recorded across 15 states of the country and the federal capital territory, according to NCDC data.

So far, Nigeria has recorded a total of 199,538 COVID-19 cases, with recovered cases standing at 188,427 and the death toll rising to 2,619 since the country recorded its index case in February 2020.

Over 1.6 million eligible persons have been fully vaccinated since Nigeria commenced COVID-19 vaccination six months ago, Faisal Shuaib, head of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) also said at the press conference on Monday.

In mid-August, Nigeria started the second phase of its COVID-19 vaccination program.

According to Shuaib, the NPHCDA, which is the agency coordinating vaccination in the country, has so far made progress by vaccinating a total of 1,692,315 citizens with the two recommended doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, while 4,052,756 eligible Nigerians have also received their first dose of other COVID-19 vaccines.

“This is made up of 2,645,020 persons with the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine and 1,407,736 persons with the first dose of the Moderna vaccine,” he explained, adding the country now has a national average of 70.4 percent utilization of the 2,000,040 doses of the Moderna vaccines received last month.

Nigeria is currently expanding vaccine sources, with an ambitious goal of vaccinating at least 40 percent of its population by the end of this year, and 70 percent by the end of 2022.

Last month, Nigerian authorities approved the emergency use of China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine amid efforts to battle the third wave of infections in the country.

Boss Mustapha, scribe of the Nigerian government and chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, said the country was expecting to receive a total of 52 million doses of vaccines by the second quarter of 2022.

“The most potent way of getting out of this situation is through vaccines, which science and research have presented to us. I call on every eligible person to come out and be vaccinated,” Mustapha said.

“There will be enough vaccines to go round soon. By the second quarter of 2022, we would have received about 52 million doses of the vaccines,” he added.

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