The number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in Nigeria nearly doubled on Wednesday to a record more than 4,000 – the highest since the start of the pandemic. Nigerian officials say the jump raises serious concerns and are urging people to stay away from gatherings. The figures were announced as Nigeria destroyed one million doses of the coronavirus vaccine that passed the expiration date.
The latest tally of COVID-19 infections, released early Thursday, almost doubles the 2,123 cases reported a day earlier.
Officials say the spike signals that the fourth wave is in full swing and that the Omicron variant is responsible.
“The whole genetic makeup of that part of the virus has changed in a way that gives the virus some advantage,” says Ifedyo Edetifa, head of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control. “The advantage that has been confirmed so far is that as a result of those changes this new version is highly permeable.”
More than 230,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported in Nigeria since February 2020.
Officials are extremely concerned about the current wave. This week, Nigeria’s CDC advised citizens against non-essential travel during the holidays to prevent the spread of the disease.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Nigerian authorities destroyed more than one million doses of expired AstraZeneca vaccine at a public gathering in Abuja. The expired vaccine is the most destroyed by any country.
At the event, Faisal Shuaib, Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, said that Nigeria had used about 60% of the vaccine from the expired batch before it went bad.
He said that even though Nigeria’s vaccination campaign has gained traction in the past two weeks, the country needs to dispel old myths and propaganda to protect more people from the new version.
“Now that we have over 10 million Nigerians who have been vaccinated, there is ample evidence that you do not die immediately after taking these vaccines. These vaccines do not make you magnetic, these vaccines do not make you one make robots, these vaccines don’t do all the crazy things they say happens to you because you got the vaccines,” Shuaib said.
In early December, Nigerian authorities began giving booster shots to stop the spread of the Omicron variant.
This week, President Muhammadu Buhari received a booster shot during a televised session to encourage citizens to participate in the exercise.