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German Drugmaker, Biontech Set To Develop Malaria Vaccine

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German Drugmaker, Biontech Set To Develop Malaria Vaccine
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German Drugmaker, Biontech Set To Develop Malaria Vaccine

German drugmaker, BioNTech, has announced plans to develop a Messenger RNA (mRNA)- based vaccine to prevent malaria, a life-threatening disease that impacts millions of people, especially in Africa.

The company, which developed the United States’ first authorised COVID-19 vaccine with an American drugmaker, Pfizer, said it is planning to begin clinical trials by the end of 2022.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), European Commission and other organisations have been involved in the early planning phase of the new vaccine, the company said.

It added that global organisations have also offered their support to identify and set up the necessary infrastructure.

“We’re committed to reducing the suffering of people worldwide, so we feel we have a duty to utilise our technology to develop and manufacture an mRNA-based vaccine that addresses this life-threatening disease,” BioNTech CEO, Ugur Sahin, said in a statement obtained by PREMIUM TIMES on Monday.

The company also pledged to manufacture the potential vaccine in African facilities – either with licensed production partners or on its own.

Mr Sahin said the aim is to develop “sustainable solutions for and together with the people of Africa”.

“Building on our mRNA technology and the expertise gained during the pandemic, our efforts will include substantial investments in vaccine development as well as transferring manufacturing expertise to sites on the African continent,” he said

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German Drugmaker, Biontech Set To Develop Malaria Vaccine

The development of the new vaccine comes as the world continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic which has claimed more than four million lives globally, according to data from worldometer.

Pfizer and BioNTech had developed a highly effective mRNA-based vaccine to target the COVID-19 virus. This has been in use in several countries and has helped reduce the number of infections and deaths.

The mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine works by tricking the body to produce a harmless piece of the virus, triggering an immune response.

It is said to be easier to produce over traditional vaccines, which generally use a dead or weakened virus to produce an immune response.

Malaria burden
Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite and spread to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes.

There were an estimated 229 million cases of Malaria and at least 409,000 deaths in 2019, according to WHO.

The majority of the cases were in Africa, and children under age five are the most vulnerable group affected by the disease.

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Malaria is endemic in Nigeria with about 53 million cases annually (one in four residents) and 81,640 deaths annually (nine deaths per hour) from the disease.

According to the WHO’s latest world malaria report, more than 1.5 billion cases of malaria and 7.6 million deaths have been averted since 2000 through global efforts to control the disease.

However, in recent years, the gains in combating malaria have plateaued, and progress towards critical targets is no longer on track.

New development
Meanwhile, the president of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Werner Hoyer, said malaria is a tricky disease to vaccinate against, hence it takes a lot of courage and dedication to embark on the endeavour BioNTech just committed to.

Mr Hoyer said finding an efficient vaccine is the only way to eradicate malaria, one of the biggest causes of death innchildren in less developed countries.

“mRNA technology has shown itself to be a game-changer to end the pandemic, and the EIB confirmed its support for this innovative approach with two loans to BioNTech, one in 2019 for developing cancer treatments and the other in 2020 for research on the COVID-19 vaccine.

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“If mRNA can revolutionise malaria vaccine development as well, the EU bank would be proud to support this mission,” he said.

In his remarks, President of the European Commission, Ursula Leyen, said the world is witnessing the start of a revolution in medical science.

“mRNA technology can be a game-changer in the fight against
other diseases too – including malaria.

“Eradicating malaria is a realistic goal and now we know that it might be achieved already in this generation,” he said.

Mr Leyen said this initiative is also a part of the broader engagement by the EU for health in Africa and the developing world.

“If we succeed, we will not only be better equipped for then next pandemic. We will also invest in an African continent that is finally free from malaria,” he said.

Jutta Urpilainen, commissioner for international partnerships, said: “I warmly welcome the ground-breaking announcement of BioNTech, that aims to use the mRNA technology in the
fight against Malaria, a major disease affecting the African continent.

“Our Team Europe initiative on enhancing vaccine manufacturing and access to medicines and health technologies in Africa will support this important project, ” he said.

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Industrial Court orders resident doctors to call off strike

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Industrial Court orders resident doctors to call off strike
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Industrial Court orders resident doctors to call off strike

The National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja has ordered that the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors are restrained from continuing with the ongoing strike pending the determination of the substantive suit before it.

The court, therefore, ordered members of the association nationwide to return to work.

The court held that there is no amount of money that will compensate for the loss of lives in the circumstances.

Justice Bashar Alkali made the order on Friday while ruling on an application by the Federal Government in the suit against NARD.

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Industrial Court orders resident doctors to call off strike

The Federal Government’s lawyer, Tochukwu Maduka (SAN), had moved his motion for interlocutory injunction, and prayed the court for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendant from continuing with the industrial action pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

He also prayed the court to compel the members of NARD nationwide to return to their duty posts pending the determination of the substantive suit.

He argued that resident doctors as persons who provide essential services cannot embark on strike and continuing to do so will wreck hardship on citizens.

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The resident doctor’s lawyer, Robinson Ariyo, vehemently opposed the application for interlocutory injunction and urged the court to discountenance their application.

He argued that the life of a medical doctor is not less useful than the life an average human being.

He argued that justice must be balanced, not just to the government, but also to the doctors who are the field marshals in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Details later…

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Pay death benefits, salary arrears, NARD tells FG

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Pay death benefits, salary arrears, NARD tells FG
The National President, National Association of Resident Doctors, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige
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Pay death benefits, salary arrears, NARD tells FG

Striking members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors have said that they may shift ground on their ongoing strike that started on August 2 if they see signs that the Federal Government will honour agreements and clear some outstanding payments.

The outstanding payments the association is expecting the government to settle before they can consider ending the strike include death benefits of members who died during COVID-19 pandemic and salary arrears among others.

It was further learnt that the leadership of NARD and that of the Nigerian Medical Association would be meeting the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, on Friday in continuation of efforts to end the strike.

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Our correspondent gathered that the issue of review of hazard allowance will feature prominently in the Friday meeting.

Pay death benefits, salary arrears, NARD tells FG

An earlier meeting NARD and NMA had with the minister on Tuesday was said to have been postponed due to the failure of both parties to agree.

When contacted on the telephone on Wednesday, NARD’s Secretary General, Jerry Isogun, confirmed the development to our correspondent.

Resident doctors, FG tell court they’re open to negotiation
However, the Federal Government and NARD on Wednesday told the National Industrial Court, Abuja that they were open to negotiations in order to end the ongoing strike action.

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They disclosed this to Justice Bashar Alkali when the matter came up in court.

The counsel for the resident doctors, Femi Falana (SAN), prayed the court to direct the parties to return to the negotiation table.

The counsel for the Federal Government, Tochukwu Maduka (SAN), responded that the matter at hand was of a special breed.

He told the court that the parties were earlier sent to an industrial arbitral panel, but the arbitral process failed.

However, Maduka told the court that the Federal Government was still open to negotiations.

Consequently, the court fixed its ruling on the ongoing dispute between the Federal Government and the resident doctors for September 17.

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Falana had raised the issue of the court’s jurisdiction and had sought that his application challenging the court’s jurisdiction be taken.

But Maduka stated that the issue of contempt had yet to be taken and argued that the issue of contempt should take precedence over the issue of jurisdiction.

Punchng.com

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Please Cease The Strike – Buhari Govt Begs Resident Doctors

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Please Cease The Strike – Buhari Govt Begs Resident Doctors
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Please Cease The Strike – Buhari Govt Begs Resident Doctors

President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government has begged striking National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, to call off their ongoing strike.

Akelicious Media reports that the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, made the call during the presidential committee on COVID-19 briefing on Monday.

The minister begged residents doctors to put an end to the ongoing strike action, adding that Buhari has promised to settle all debts.

Last week his excellency, the president received the leadership of the Nigerian Medical Association in audience and in his remarks called on doctors on strike to return to duty and for those contemplating it to opt for peaceful resolution, so as not to put the lives of citizens at risk,” he said.

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“He reminded us that his administration has a sound track record of paying debts, even such debts as inherited from, or ignored by preceeding administration. Resident doctors are therefore assured from the highest authority in the land that all debts will be settled, when they are verified and validated.

Please Cease The Strike – Buhari Govt Begs Resident Doctors

“With this, I call on striking doctors to put an end to their industrial action immediately and return to work. Nigeria has been lucky with the relatively low impact of COVID-19 so far, and we need to keep our preparedness optimal. We cannot afford to stretch our luck too far.”

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Buhari had last Friday met with members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in a bid to find a solution to crisis rocking the health sector.

Recall that Doctors on August 2, embarked on strike action, accusing the federal government of failing to implement agreements it had with their union on issues including salaries, hazard allowances, and others.

The strike embarked upon by the doctors had been expected to be close to a peaceful resolution until the resident doctors on Sunday told the federal government they won’t sign the memorandum of understanding put on the table by the government team.

The doctors accused the government of insincerity in its dealings, hence their inability to trust what is contained in the memorandum again since they’ve been deceived previously.

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