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COVID-19: Africa secures 270 million vaccine doses



Africa has so far made strides in acquiring a COVID-19 vaccine, as the African Union (AU) has announced that 270 million people will be receive treatment for the virus.

In his capacity as AU Chair, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the doses would be an addition to the COVAX facility, which is the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) initiative aimed at pooling resources and funds and ultimately securing at least 2 billion vaccines by the end of 2021.

The vaccines will be supplied by Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

“From the onset of this pandemic, our focus as a continent has been on collaboration and collective effort. We have held steadfastly to the principle that no country should be left behind,” Ramaphosa said.

“With this in mind, we have not only campaigned vigorously for changes through all the available international forums, but we have taken the additional step to independently secure vaccines using our own limited resources as member states”

AU Chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa

Ramaphosa established the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) in August 2020 to ensure that Africa would be able to secure sufficient COVID-19 vaccine doses to achieve herd immunity.

Africa expecting 50 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from April 2021

This latest development on Africa’s procurement of a COVID-19 vaccine is considered a massive feat for the continent as experts had previously expressed concern over its ability to manage the virus, citing its poor healthcare system.

All 270 million vaccine doses will be made available this year with at least 50 million being available for the crucial period of April to June 2021.

Afreximbank, a continental financial institution, will help facilitate the purchase of the vaccines, on behalf of member states. Afreximbank will provide advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to US$2 billion to the manufacturers on behalf of member states.

Upon delivery of the vaccines, member states may pay using their internal resources or access an instalment payment facility of up to five years offered by the institution.

“I wish to commend the members of the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, Afreximbank, Africa CDC and all those who have been working tirelessly to secure these vaccines for the people of Africa. There is a long road ahead, but as Africa we are now seeing progress in our shared effort to defeat this disease,” Ramaphosa concluded. Protection Status

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Google Shuts Down Service in Uhuru's Project



  • President Uhuru Kenyatta’s project to provide internet connectivity in Kenya is in limbo after the shut down of Google’s Loon project.

    The announcement was made on Friday, January 22 by tech expert Astro Teller who is in charge of the project that was under Google’s mother company, Alphabet. It was carried out in partnership with the Ministry of ICT and Telkom Kenya. 

    The high-altitude stratospheric balloons provide internet access by creating an aerial wireless network, registering speeds of up to 1 Mbps.

    A high altitude WiFi internet hub, a Google Project Loon balloon, on display.
    A high altitude WiFi internet hub, a Google Project Loon balloon, on display.
    Flickr | btwashburn

    The company cited that the Loon project was no longer commercially viable, adding that the exit was already in progress. 

    “A small group of the Google Loon team will stay to ensure Loon’s operations are wrapped up smoothly and safely – this includes winding down Loon’s pilot service in Kenya,” Teller announced.  

    Loon launched its first commercial internet service in Kenya in July 2020, consisting of a fleet of about 35 balloons that covered an area of around 50,000 square kilometres.

    President Kenyatta had taken a special interest in the project and was hopeful that the new development would enable Kenya to retain her competitive advantages in ICT and innovation.

    “In that regard, and to foster communication and enable Kenyans to retain and enhance remote access to the offices and enterprises, my administration has granted approvals that will ensure universal 4G data coverage throughout Kenya,” said the President at State House.

    The Google representative thanked Kenya for providing the opportunity to offer its innovation and internet connectivity through the Loon project.

    “Although Loon is going away, our commitment to connectivity isn’t. Today we’re pledging a fund of Ksh1 billion to support nonprofits and businesses focussed on connectivity, internet, entrepreneurship and education in Kenya,” he added. 

    In August 2020, one of the balloons deployed to Kenya crashed in Congo, sparking a flurry of chatter and speculation, including claims that it was a UFO.

    A spokesperson for the Google subsidiary, however, stated that the balloon was deployed in the initial testing phase and was not among those providing commercial internet access.

    Google Headquartes in San Jose, Carlifonia
    Google Headquarters in San Jose, California
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    Two-thirds of intensive care patients have Covid, HSE chief says



    Two-thirds of all patients in intensive care are being treated for Covid-19, the head of the HSE has said.

    In a tweet posted on Friday morning, Paul Reid said the health service had never seen such a number of people being treated “for the same illness”.

    Some 211 Covid patients (66 per cent) are in intensive care units, Mr Reid said.

    He also said there are 300 patients outside of intensive care receiving respiratory support.

    “We’re battling hard to sustain safe levels of care but it’s getting harder,” Mr Reid said.

    This comes as the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) warned on Thursday that the number of daily cases of coronavirus is 10 times higher than at the start of December.

    Nphet said there will be “a large number” of deaths over the coming weeks.

    “The number of deaths confirmed per day over the last seven days, 44, is the highest we have seen at any point during the pandemic,” said Philip Nolan, head of the Government’s Covid modelling unit.

    The infection rate, however, has fallen sharply from a pandemic high registered earlier in January. There were an average of 2,430 new cases over the past five days, down from a five-day average of 4,473 reported a week ago.


    Ireland making ‘clear progress’ says CMO but Level…

    Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said clear progress was being made but “we still have a very large burden of disease”.

    “It is evident that the population is working as one to reduce contacts and interrupt further transmission of the disease,” he said. “However, we are witnessing the effects of high levels of community transmission through our hospital and ICU admissions and reported deaths.”

    A further 51 deaths of Covid-19 patients were reported by the team at its daily media briefing, 49 of which occurred in January.

    Nphet also reported 2,608 further cases of the disease, bringing to 181,922 the total recorded to date.

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    Hatimaye wakili wa Bobi Wine waruhusiwa kumuona mteja wao



    Hatimaye jeshi la UPDF na polisi nchini Uganda wamewaruhusu wanasheria wa waliokuwa wa mgombea wa kiti cha urais Robert Kyagulanyi maarufu Bobi Wine kumtembelea nyumbani kwake Magere anakozuiwa na vikosi hivyo kwa zaidi ya juma moja.

    Hii ni baada ya mahakama kuu jana kutoa maamuzi ya ombi la Kyagulanyi na mkewe la kuondolewa kwa vikosi vya jeshi na polisi nyumbani kwake.

    Kulingana na mwandishi wa BBC Issaac Mumena, mawakili hao waliruhusiwa kumuona baada ya kukaguliwa kwenye kizuizi cha jeshi kilichowekwa karibu na nyumbani kwake.

    Kwa mjibu wa Asumani Basalirwa aliyezungumuza na BBC kwa njia ya simu, iliwachukua muda wa saa kadha kuwashawishi wakuu wa jeshi la UPDF na polisi kuweza kumuona mteja wao, lakini baadhi ya watu waliokwenda nao walibaki kwenye kizuizi cha jeshi akiwemo aliyekuwa mgombea wa kiti cha urais Jenerali Henry Tumukunde.

    Mwanasheria Basalirwa ameeleza kuwa wamemkuta Bobi Wine akiwa na upungufu wa chakula kutokana na kumzuia kutotoka nje na pia kuwazuia watu kuingia nyumbani kwake ambao wangemletea chakula lakini hali yake kiafya sio mbaya.

    ‘’Afya yake ni nzuri, hakuna kitu chochote lakini yeye anataka kitu kimoja tu nacho ni haki yake, anataka apewe uhuru kutoka kwake nyumbani kwenda kufanya kazi yake arudi’’, amesema Asumani Basalirwa.

    Masuala muhimu yaliyowapeleka wanasheria hao kwa kiongozi wa chama cha NUP ni pamoja na kushauriana naye jinsi ya kuwasilisha kesi ya kupinga matokeo ya uchaguzi mkuu uliofanyika tarehe 14 mwezi huu wa Januari, yaliyompatia Rais Museveni ushindi wa kuongoza muhula wa sita.

    Lakini je vikosi vya usalama vimewafahamisha kwanini wamemzuia Robert Kyagulanyi

    Mwanasheria Asumani Basalirwa amesema,’’ walisema wao wako na intelijensia yao inayowaarifu kuwa Bobi Wine anafanya maandilizi ya kufanya makosa, ana mipango ya kufanya vurugu na kuwaambia raia waandamane barabarani.

    Hii sio mara ya kwanza kwa jeshi la UPDF na polisi kuwazuia viongozi wa upinzani nyumbani kwao baada ya uchaguzi, Dkt. Kiiza Besigye baada ya uchaguzi wa mwaka 2016 alizuiwa nyumbani kwake Kasangati kwa zaidi ya miezi 3 hadi rais Museveni akaapishwa.

    Hii itategemea uamuzi wa mahakama kuu wiki ijayo siku ya Jumatatu tarehe 25 baada ya Bwana Kyagulanyi na mkewe Babra Itungo kuomba mahakama kuwaondoa wanajeshi na polisi nyumbani kwake na kupewa uhuru wao wa kikatiba.

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