The Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 said it is currently monitoring the situation around the world concerning Omicron, stressing that enforcement of vaccination for federal workers will begin tomorrow.
Speaking at the national briefing, the chairman of the PSC, Boss Mustapha said: “As the director general of the World Health Organisation, WHO, has just stated today (yesterday), the emergence of the highly-mutated Omicron variant underlines just how perilous and precarious our situation is.
“Nigerians and residents are therefore urged to get fully vaccinated, frequently tested, and continue to strictly adhere to the non-pharmaceutical intervention measures, including physical distancing, properly wearing of face masks, ensure proper ventilation and hand hygiene.
“However, the PSC is reviewing the situation around the world and putting in place measures to curtail the impact of the variant on the country.”
He further said “the PSC is aware of some travellers who have resolved to circumvent the travel protocols by providing fake COVID-19 test results, permits or travel certificates or declaring fake vaccination status at our points of entry. The weight of the law is heavy and will come hard on these people.”
Speaking on December 1 deadline for vaccine mandate for civil servants, the PSC chairman said “the vaccine mandate will come into effect fully on December 1, 2021 and I encourage every federal government worker and, in essence, all Nigerians and residents to get vaccinated.
“The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) is ramping up vaccination around the country to ensure that citizens have access to the vaccines wherever they may be. The vaccines are now available, so we need people to go get their jabs.
“With the developments around the world, people will not be able to travel without their verified vaccination cards.”
On the suspension of ban on Emirates Airlines, the chairman said “the PSC will want to inform you that the impasse on the Nigeria – UAE flights have been resolved in the interest of both parties. A date for the commencement of flights between the two countries will be announced in due course.”
Meanwhile, the German vaccine manufacturer, Biontech, has announced that it is developing an adapted vaccine.
The vaccine is to serve as a precautionary measure while simultaneously carrying out research on the nature of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
“To avoid wasting time, we are tackling these two tasks in parallel until the data is available and we have more information on whether the vaccine needs to be adapted or not,’’ a Biontech spokeswoman said yesterday.
The two undertakings even partially coincide, according to Biontech, “We immediately began studies on the Omicron variant. We have also taken initial steps to develop a potential new vaccine, which overlap with the laboratory tests,’’ the company said.
The laboratory tests were necessary to assess whether a new vaccine is necessary or not. The process involves serum from vaccinated individuals being exposed to the spike protein of the variant to examine how it reacts.
“The goal of this approach is to move quickly in development should a variant-specific vaccine be required,’’ the company said.
Biontech earlier said the new variant was significantly different from previously observed variants because it had additional mutations on the spike protein.