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Volunteers on Covid jab trials should get travel certificates, say top scientists


Volunteers on Covid jab trials should get travel certificates, say top scientists

Senior government science advisers from the UK, Europe and Canada have called on countries around the world to offer vaccination certificates to volunteers on Covid jab trials so they can travel internationally.

The UK has led the way in granting vaccine certificates to trial participants, but many countries have failed to follow suit and refuse to admit people unless they have had two doses of Covid vaccine that has already gone through trials and been approved by regulators.

The situation means many tens of thousands of people globally who enrolled in clinical trials to assess Covid vaccines, or combinations of different shots, cannot travel abroad unless they get an additional round of approved jabs.

In an open letter to governments around the world 14 senior advisers, including England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, and the UK’s chief scientist, Sir Patrick Vallance, warn that preventing trial volunteers from travelling was “unfair” and had led some participants to drop out of trials and seek extra vaccinations.

“Vaccine clinical trial volunteers have given their time freely to help others, and clinical trials are the way in which the world can understand which vaccines work and are safe,” the letter states. “There is a moral and ethical obligation to treat volunteers in a way that feels fair to them and to the wider public. It is the right thing to do.”

Among those affected are more than 15,000 people who took part in the phase 3 Novavax trial at hospitals across the UK. The firm has not yet submitted the trial data to regulators for approval.

Kris Gumbrell, the chief executive officer of a pub chain, took part in the Novavax trial and received four shots in total, two vaccine, two placebo, between October 2020 and April 2021. He has a vaccine certificate that can be used to enter events in the UK, but he cannot travel to any country that requires approved vaccines. To complicate matters further, the NHS app considers him vaccinated so he cannot book the extra shots he now wants so he can travel with his family in January.

“You hit a brick wall because your Novavax vaccination doesn’t count. You’re stuck in this trap. You can’t go anywhere that requires an approved vaccine,” Gumbrell said. “There’s an awful lot of upset people out there. The UK has done a huge amount of heavy lifting with vaccine trials. The politicians should be fighting our corner more.”

In an effort to find a solution, the UK government announced last week that it would provide two shots of the approved Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for thousands of Britons who took part in trials so they could travel abroad – meaning they would have four shots of Covid vaccine total.

The letter urges foreign governments to issue vaccine certificates or “passports” to volunteers on vaccine trials that have been approved by regulators, regardless of whether the participants have received unlicensed vaccines, combinations of shots, or even placebo jabs.

“Given the numbers of trial participants globally, the population contribution of admitting a small number of placebo recipients in trials will be trivial in terms of public health and national disease epidemiology,” the letter states.

“Of course trials will continue to be needed to improve vaccine design and coverage, especially as the virus mutates and evolves. Anything that acts as a disincentive to participate in trials will be to the detriment of public health,” it adds.

Prof Saul Faust, the Wessex regional lead for Covid vaccine trials at the University of Southampton, said the letter was “a massively important intervention” by Chris Whitty and his colleagues.

“Vaccine trial participants – of whom there are more than 50,000 in the UK but many tens of thousands more globally – have been discriminated against as second class citizens by politicians globally instead of treated as the heroes they are. Without them we would have no vaccines at all,” Faust said. “While the UK decided to honour participants with UK accreditation before the summer, because no other countries have agreed this principle none of our UK participants have been able to travel or go abroad so far without lying to get extra doses of approved vaccines – also at considerable personal risk as the effects of such combinations or doses are unknown.”

“If governments don’t sort this out, no one will ever want to take part in trials again, so booster trials and of any future pandemic vaccines will be at risk,” he added.

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Court Sacks 13 Ebonyi LG Bosses, 171 Councilors

A Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki has again nullified the Ebonyi Local Government Elections and sacked all the 13 Council chairmen in the state.

The court also sacked all the councilors and 171 ward chairmen of the state.

The court had on Aug. 25, nullified the council polls of May 31.

Ruling on the matter with suit NO: FHC/AI/CS/224/2022 on Friday, Justice Fatun Riman ordered the seizure of the monthly federal allocation of the chairmen pending when rightful Chief Executives were elected into office.

Fatun restated that the councils election by the State Independent Electoral Commission (EBSIEC) on May 31 was illegal and unconstitutional.

Mr Mudi Erenede, Counsel to the plaintiff said he was happy over the judgment and commended the court.

“In the judgement today, the court has agreed that the Ebonyi State High court has no powers to override or set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court because it is not an Appeal Court.

“Those people, who are parading themselves as chairmen are not there legally.

“They were appointed by whoever that appointed them. CBN, Attorney General of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Finance are all defendants in this suits,” he stated.

The counsel to Ebonyi State Government, Mr Roy Nweze, said there was no need responding to a judgment that had already been delivered by the court.

Nweze said that the matter would be appealed without delay.


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Naval College Graduates 245 Officers, Personnel

The newly graduated personnel of the Officers’ Application Course 20 of the Nigerian Naval Engineering College (NNEC), Sapele in Delta, have been urged to remain committed to the service of the nation.

Rear Adm. Monday Unurhiere, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Naval Training Command, made the plea at the graduation ceremony of the 245 Under Training Personnel of the Officers’ Application Course 20 in Sapele.

Unurhiere, represented by Rear Adm. Baratuaipri Iyalla, said that the call became necessary in view of the security, economic and social challenges currently facing the country.

The naval chief urged the graduands to make deliberate efforts to improve themselves on the job by way of taking advantage of modern technology and also tapping into the wealth of experience of their superiors.

“Let me remind you that as officers of the Nigerian Navy, you are charged with enormous responsibility and your unswerving allegiance is to the Nation.

“The confidence reposed in you must not be taking for granted, especially at this time that our national aspirations are being threatened by numerous security, economic and social challenges.

“As such, you may find yourself being called upon to serve beyond your technical capability due to the prevailing situation in the country,” he said.

Unurhiere acknowledged the efforts of the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Awwal Gambo, for creating the enabling environment for training and continued financial support to NNEC.

According to him, this has helped the College to contribute more to the technological advancement of Nigerian Navy and the nation at large.

He urged the graduands, especially the under training personnel, to maintain the current tempo in sustaining training and other naval activities.

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NNPC Disburses N15bn For Lagos-Badagry Expressway Reconstruction

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd.) has disbursed N15 billion for the reconstruction of the Lagos Badagry Expressway under the Federal Government Road Infrastructure Tax Credit (RITC) Scheme.

The N15 billion represents a 100 percent payment of the funding of the Lagos-Badagry road rehabilitation under the tax credit funding of the NNPC Ltd.

The NNPC Group Chief Executive, Mr Mele Kyari, made this known on Thursday when he led NNPC’s management team with some top government officials to inspect the ongoing rehabilitation and expansion of Lagos-Badagry Expressway (Agbara Junction-Nigeria/Benin Border).

The road under rehabilitation is being funded by the NNPC Ltd. under the Federal Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme.

The execution of the scheme is being carried out in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing as the supervisor and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for NNPC’s tax obligations deductions.

This is in response to address the plight faced by petroleum products marketers in transportation which affects nationwide distribution.

Kyari said the fund disbursed was part of the N621.24 billion earmarked for the reconstruction of 21 roads nationwide under the scheme.

He expressed satisfaction over the stage of the road development.

“We are covering 1,804.6mkm across the country and taking another set of over a trillion naira investment on infrastructure in Nigeria, believing that with the tax credit system which Mr President has put in place, very soon there will be massive change.

“NNPC as the enabler will consider from its cash flow and fund whatever FIRS and Ministry of works approve for the company.

The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, represented by the Director, Highways, Roads and Rehabilitation of the Ministry, Mr Folorunsho Esan, said the intervention of the NNPC sped up the reconstruction of the expressway.

Esan said that the project was 40 per cent completed.

“In the next 12 months we should be able to deliver this project because the drainages are in place, just for earth works and pavement works, it cannot take us more than 12 months,” he said.

Speaking on the gridlock being caused by the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway project, he said the contractor would clear all impediments and move out of site by December 15 to make the highway free for Yuletide.

Earlier, Mrs Olukorede Keisha, Federal Ministry of Works Engineer supervising the Lagos-Badagry Expressway project, gave a brief of the project, listing the drains, culverts and other construction works done on various stretches.

Oba Israel Okoya, Oba of Ibereko in Badagry Royal Majesty, who lauded the Federal Government and NNPC for the intervention, said before the reconstruction, the road was in a terrible situation making traffic unbearable for motorists.

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