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Western Cape ‘to seek its own vaccine’, as 100 000 citizens prioritsed for jabs



The Western Cape has forensically detailed its strategy to deliver the vaccine – straying from the centralised approach set out by the government. Provincial officials have explained how the rollout of these jabs will unfold over the course of 2021, and Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo revealed that the department was prepared to take some bold steps.

Will the Western Cape buy its own vaccine?

During a briefing with Parliament’s health portfolio committee, Mbombo revealed that Premier Alan Winde has been talking with vaccine suppliers in order to secure a potential ‘extra need for additional shots’. The Western Cape Government is of the view that they must expand beyond the priorities set out by Zweli Mkhize and the ANC.

“The Premier, in his capacity as provincial commander of the council for COVID-19, has been engaging with suppliers and various other stakeholders with regard to the issue of vaccines We know for sure there will be a time where there might be an extra need to expand beyond some of the priorities the nation has provided for – and therefore, it is crucial we do that.”

Nomafrench Mbombo

Vaccine rollout strategy for the Western Cape

This would certainly represent a breakaway from the established ‘vaccine norms’ South Africa has come to expect. Cabinet has stressed that South Africa, in its entirety, will sing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to immunisation. Mbombo’s admission on Wednesday is a clear indication that the Western Cape will take matters into its own hands.

While rolling out the vaccine strategy, Winde explained how these inoculations would be distributed:

Phase 1: Health care workers – 100 000 workers in the public and private sector, including community health care workers, care workers, and health science students, will be vaccinated first. 

Phase 2: Essential workers – those in congregate settings (such as care homes), those over 60 years old, and those over 18 with co-morbidities will then be next in line.

Phase 3: General population – This will include anyone over 18. The vaccine has not been tested for safety in pregnant women and in children, and will not be administered to these groups.

Winde outlines ‘vaccination register’

Premier Winde also confirmed that the province intends to create a vaccination register – similar to the way a voter’s roll works – in order to log every citizen that requires the COVID-19 jab. Consent forms, registered appointments, and proof of vaccination paperwork will all form part of the registry: 

“We will be putting in place data systems to track the progress of the rollout and vaccine coverage at an individual and community level. We want to create a vaccination register, which will be similar to a voter’s roll and list those who require vaccinating. In this regard, we have started consultations with the IEC to share information about the systems they use.”  

“Those on the register will receive an appointment time and date, where they sign a consent form, receive their first dose, and an appointment date for their second dose. They will also be issued with proof of vaccination. On the appropriate date, the person will receive their second dose. We have already started the work to put the correct systems in place.”

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COVID-19 vaccines: Bauchi govt spends N21.75m on refrigerators



The Bauchi State government has spent over twenty-seven million Naira to procure refrigerators for COVID-19 vaccines in the state.

The state government claims the refrigerators are to be used to store the 1,900 doses of the Pfizer vaccines that will be allocated to the state by the Federal Government.

These procurements were revealed by the Executive Secretary, Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency (BSHCDA), Dr Rilwanu Mohammed in an exclusive chat with Muhabarishaji.

He said the state government bought the refrigerators directly from the manufacturers at the cost of N10.5million each, adding that they were installed at the cost of N750,000.

The BSPHCDA boss informed that Bauchi State was ready for COVID-19 vaccines, adding that it had the capacity to even store the whole 100,000 doses being expected.

“All is well in Bauchi. When we heard that the Federal Government is to receive about 100,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine and it required -70 degrees, the governor of Bauchi State and his deputy called us that we need these refrigerators to maintain these vaccines.

“So we swung into action. We got the company that supplied -86 refrigerators. The two of them are here. We installed the two of them and they are working at -86 centigrade. The capacity is about 678 litres, each one. We have even the capacity to store even the vaccines that are coming into the country,” Dr Mohammed said.

“We made sure that the two of them were here even before any other states, even before the Federal Government. We have installed the two of them. We are prepared.

“Even if they bring the vaccines today, we are ready to collect it. We don’t have any challenge. We want other states to emulate what Bauchi has done,” he added.

Mohammed informed that to ensure that the vaccines are stored at the required temperature, the government equally bought two 10kva stabilizers to supply adequate energy to power the refrigerators.

He informed that the vaccines coming to the state are meant for health workers and other front-line workers involved in the fight to contain the deadly COVID-19 disease in the state.

“The 1,900 vaccine that is coming to Bauchi State is targeting health workers who are at risk.

“We have to carry out what is called mapping of all health workers in Bauchi State, particularly those managing patients at the isolation centres, those going to carry out tests, laboratory workers and those people in the airport. These are the people they have given us the guideline.”

Dr Mohammed lamented that the whole world did not anticipate that Covid-19 vaccine would be discovered and approved for human use by the World Health Organisation (WHO), adding that for that reason, there was no provision for the vaccines in Bauchi State’s 2021 Appropriation Act.

“There was no budget for corona vaccines in Bauchi State, there was no budget for corona vaccines by the Federal Government. The budget was passed without the anticipation that this vaccine is coming and is approved by the World Health Organization. So the FG is receiving this vaccine, they have to carry out a supplementary budget,” he said.

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Taliban leaders determined to fight US: Shamkhani



Taliban leaders determined to fight US: Shamkhani

“In today’s meeting with the #Taliban political delegation: I found the leaders of this group determined to fight the United States,” he said.

“Someone who has been under US torture at #Guantanamo for 13 years, has not given up fighting the #UnitedStates in the region.”

Taliban political delegation headed by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who arrived in Tehran yesterday, met and held talks withShamkhani on Wednesday.

Referring to the history of the US incitement to war in the region, Shamkhani said, “The United States does not seek peace and security in Afghanistan. The US strategy is the continuation of war and bloodshed between the various factions of Afghanistan.”

“The United States is pursuing peace talks with the aim of creating a stalemate in the negotiations between the various Afghan parties to blame them for insecurity and instability,” he added.

Stating that Iran will never recognize the group that wants to rule Afghanistan through war, Shamkhani stressed the need for the participation of all ethnic groups in determining the fate of Afghanistan in a completely peaceful process.


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Lebanon lawyers urge UK to halt liquidation of Beirut blast-linked company



An association of Lebanese lawyers has requested British authorities prevent the liquidation of a company potentially linked to the Beirut blast, Reutersreported.

The Beirut Bar Association sent a letter to British Member of Parliament Margaret Hodge making the request on Monday.

The letter urged the UK corporate registry Companies House to halt the liquidation of Savaro Ltd, which filed for dissolution on 12 January.

The letter described the company as an “indicted entity” in an investigation into the cause of the 4 August explosion which ripped through Beirut leaving over 200 dead and thousands more wounded.

The letter, penned by Bar Association President Melhem Khalaf, states that Savaro has been indicted by Fadi Sawwan, the lead investigating judge in the probe.

Khalaf warns allowing Savaro to be liquidated “before the end of the judicial proceedings would permit an indicted entity to evade justice”, Reuters quoted the letter as saying.

It remains unclear if Savaro has officially been indicted in the Lebanese investigation and the letter marks the first indication the company might be.

READ: Switzerland to probe Lebanon central bank governor over money laundering

The Bar Association letter to Hodge told the British MP Savaro’s name and address “appears on documents in its capacity as purchaser of the High-Density Ammonium Nitrate cargo that eventually exploded in August 2020”.

Hodge called for a British-led investigation into Savaro last week, alongside John Mann, a member of the Britain’s House of Lords.

Last week, Mann said: “It is shocking and very damaging to the reputation of the United Kingdom that Companies House and our national system of company registration can be so easily exploited.”

Savaro Ltd was first linked to the purchase of the explosives that caused the Beirut blast in a documentary aired by Al-Jadeed in early January. The documentary unearthed links between three Russian-Syrian citizens and Savaro because companies run by two businessmen were found to have the same addresses as Savaro.

The trio have all been sanctioned by the US for providing services to the government of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

Sanctions were imposed on one, Mudalal Khuri, for, among other things, serving as an intermediary for Al-Assad’s government “on an attempted procurement of ammonium nitrate in late 2013.”

The alleged “attempted procurement” took place in the same period that the ammonium nitrate which caused the Beirut blast entered the Lebanese port.

READ: Interpol issues red notice for arrest of Beirut blast ship captain, owner

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