… With over 40M Nigerians infected already
Findings from a household seroprevalence surveys conducted in Lagos, Enugu, Nasarawa and Gombe States has shown that COVID-19 infection is more prevalent among Nigerian men than women, with over 40 million citizens infected already.
The survey, jointly conducted by officials of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Nigeria Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and their partners, done between September and October 2020 with the aim of improving estimate of the infection burden in the country, found that 1 in 5 Nigerians have been infected with the virus, which negates the official infection records daily display by the NCDC.
In a press statement announcing results of the survey, the researchers said: “Survey findings released today (Monday) revealed that the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies was 23% in Lagos and Enugu States, 19% in Nasarawa State, and 9% in Gombe State. This means that as many as 1 in 5 individuals in Lagos, Enugu and Nasarawa State would have ever been infected with SARS-CoV-2. In Gombe, the proportion is about 1 in 10.
“Results of the survey further showed higher rates of infection among: 1) males than females (for example, 10% vs. 7% in Gombe and 21% vs. 17% in Nasarawa); 2) urban compared to rural and residents (for example, 28% vs. 18% in Enugu and 23% vs. 19% in Lagos); and persons aged 18-64 years. There were also variations across the local government areas (LGA) within the four states”.
While the latest infection update from the NCDC shows 154,476 confirmed cases, 131,699 treated and discharged with 1,891 deaths recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, analysis of the survey implies that this is far from the reality of things in a country of 200 million. If 1 in 5 persons is infected, then simple arithmetic confirms it as 40 million. This is a validation to the fact that the country is really under testing due to limited facilities and resources.
In conducting the test, the team collected blood samples from over 10,000 individuals residing in a representative sample of households in the four states. The blood samples were then tested for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies applying locally validated laboratory tests. Individuals who provided blood samples also answered a brief questionnaire that enabled the study team to characterise factors related to positivity and identify which population groups were most affected.
The results from the survey show that a significant proportion of people in Nigeria are still at risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and therefore, it is very important that Nigerians continue to adhere to public health and social measures including regular handwashing, proper use of face masks and physical distancing.
The statement further implied results from the survey, noting that “SARS-CoV-2 emerged only one year ago and antibody response according to severity of infection and the duration of antibody persistence are not yet completely understood. Given the high proportion of asymptomatic cases in Nigeria, the true seroprevalence of ever having infection may be underestimated in the survey if individuals infected early in the outbreak no longer had sufficient antibodies for detection when the survey was conducted”.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has disclosed that over 500,000 people, mostly from poor countries in Africa are in need oxygen 1.1 million cylinders of oxygen per day, with 25 countries currently reporting surges in demand.
Topmost on the list of the 25 low income countries with surge in oxygen supply are Malawi, Nigeria Afghanistan, among others.
The global health institution made the disclosure Friday via a press statement, as it launched a COVID-19 Oxygen Emergency Taskforce saddled with the responsibility of coordinating and advocating increased supply of oxygen, and, in partnership with the Access to COVID Tools Accelerator Therapeutics pillar (co-led by Unitaid and Wellcome).
Reacting to the shortage in oxygen supply in Africa, Dr Philippe Duneton, Executive Director of Unitaid, said: “This is a global emergency that needs a truly global response, both from international organisations and donors. Many of the countries seeing this demand struggled before the pandemic to meet their daily oxygen needs. Now it’s more vital than ever that we come together to build on the work that has already been done, with a firm commitment to helping the worst-affected countries as quickly as possible.”
“The taskforce has determined an immediate funding need of US$90 million to address key challenges in oxygen access and delivery in up to 20 countries, including Malawi, Nigeria and Afghanistan. This first set of countries has been identified based on assessments coordinated by WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, in order to match in-country need with potential financing, such as through the World Bank and the Global Fund.
“Unitaid and Wellcome will make an immediate contribution of up to US$20 million in total for the emergency response. The urgent, short-term requirements of additional countries will be measured and costed in the coming weeks, with the overall funding need over the next 12 months estimated by ACT-A to be US$1.6 billion – a figure that will be regularly reviewed by the taskforce”, he quipped.