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News Agency of Nigeria



Trajectory of COVID-19 Pandemic: Uncertainties, Hope



An Analysis by Oluwafunke Ishola/Dianabasi Effiong (News Agency of Nigeria)

Most Nigerians are still in awe as to whether the COVID-19 pandemic still trends or has been laid to rest in their respective communities.

Such uncertainties heighten as the infection rate declines, protocols relaxed with less attention given to COVID-19 by many countries, including Nigeria.

With the advent of the Russia-Ukraine war and the outbreak of the Monkeypox disease in non-endemic countries, interests in COVID-19 appear to have been diverted, at least for a while.

Global health community is racing to provide vaccines for Monkeypox control while countries battle with food shortage issues, fuel crisis and global inflation emanating from economic downturn.

Similarly, the COVID-19 epidemiological report by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has been reviewed to thrice a week as against a daily report while the epicentre of COVID-19 in Nigeria, Lagos State, barely releases its COVID-19 update like before.

The last COVID-19 update from the state was released on April 24 and this, among other factors, makes concerned citizens continually ponder on whether COVID-19 still exists in countries.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had on Dec. 31, 2019, announced detection of pneumonia of unknown cause in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

Within a month, cases are reported in five WHO regions, leading the health agency to hold an Emergency Committee meeting of its International Health Regulations on Jan. 30, and declared the 2019-nCoV outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

The Committee notes that early detection, isolating and treating cases, contact tracing and social distancing measures in line with the level of risk could assist to stop the virus spread.

On Feb. 11, 2020, it names the virus COVID-19, a choice that will help guard against the use of other names that might be inaccurate or stigmatising.

“We must be guided by solidarity, not stigma.

“The greatest enemy we face is not the virus itself; it’s the stigma that turns us against each other. We must stop stigma and hate,” the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, tells the global community.

On Feb. 14, 2020, the COVID-19 infection is confirmed in Africa with the first reported case in Egypt, while Nigeria confirmed its first case on Feb. 27, 2020.

On March 11, 2020, WHO declares the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic due to its concern by its alarming levels of spread and severity, and the levels of inaction.

The high transmissibility of the virus leads to panic among the global populace with countries effecting measures including lockdown, curfew, travel bans, and many persons broadcasting unverified information on how to prevent infection from the disease.

At the peak of the pandemic in 2020, increased hospitalisation, high mortality rate, shortages in medical supplies including personal protective equipment (PPE) left health workers and other frontline workers dangerously ill-equipped to care for COVID-19 patients.

The global community rises to the challenge with strategic cooperation leading to the formation of the ACT-Accelerator partnership, launched by WHO and partners, to support the fastest, most coordinated, and successful global effort in history to develop tools to fight a disease.

With significant advances in research and development by the academia, private sector and government initiatives, the ACT-Accelerator secured a way to end the acute phase of the pandemic by deploying the tests, treatments and vaccines the world needed.

These interventions made the first COVID-19 vaccines possible, although it met with lots of skepticism about its safety and effectiveness.

However, the vaccine helps the world move beyond the fear of COVID-19 and exit lockdowns.

Consequently, borders are reopened, airlines begin operations, schools and offices resume from remote learning and work as the world adjust to  “living with COVID-19”.

Consequently, the director-general of the WHO, at the 2022 World Health Assembly, warns countries against complacency, noting that COVID-19 pandemic is not over.

Ghebreyesus maintains that decline in infection figures and deaths does not signify an end to the pandemic while also expressing concern about COVID-19 spike in 70 countries and low testing rates.

“It is not over anywhere until it is over everywhere. Only 57 countries have vaccinated 70 per cent of their population, almost all of them high-income countries,’’ Ghebreyesus says.

Similarly, the NCDC cautions that COVID-19 is real and not yet over, noting, sadly, that the disease has affected no fewer than 200, 000 Nigerians.

The NCDC also notes that COVID-19 continues to threaten lives and livelihoods, stressing that all necessary precautions should be taken to ensure safety of lives.

Notably, Dr Iorhen Akase, an infectious diseases physician, complains that the world failed to learn from COVID-19 experience.

According to him, most people are in a hurry to move on with their lives in disregard to infection prevention control practice in their daily lives and communities.

Akase warns that pandemics and large-scale outbreaks can claim millions of lives, disrupt societies and devastate economies.

He adds that most infectious diseases can be controlled through effective preparedness and constant hand hygiene practice by citizens, advising citizens against letting down their guard.

Also on precautionary measures, Mr Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, cautions against indifference to COVID-19 risks, noting that the pandemic could generate a variant that could be more transmissive and fatal.

Gates says the COVID-19 pandemic created a unique opportunity to improve global preparedness and strengthen health systems against future pandemic.

Specifically, that means improving technology, including vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics; building up health systems and improving global monitoring of diseases.

As the world continues to respond to COVID-19, health experts stress that preemptive planning and protective measures can help in better management of future pandemics.

They also say that countries with high rates of current immunity and widespread booster uptake will be better protected against COVID-19, just as they call for a continuous response system against infectious diseases. (NANFeatures)(

Edited by Dianabasi Effiong/Vivian Ihechu