A Virologist, Dr Yinka Adekunle, says effective vaccination of citizens is the only way Nigerians and the world over can return to normal lives amid the third wave of COVID-19. Adekunle said this in an interview on Wednesday in Abuja.
She said “some Nigerians have been feeling a sense of hope that the pandemic might be dispersing, allowing
a return to some sort of normalcy.
“Do not let your guard down just yet because of the quick spread and contagious COVID-19 Delta variant.”
According to her, understanding the Delta variant poses serious challenge because it spreads faster.
She explained that it was about 60 per cent more transmissible than B.1.1.7, the U.K. variant, now newly named the Alpha variant.
“Because of the lack of sequencing in the country, we cannot tell if Delta is now the dominant variant in Nigeria and it might not be the most contagious variant in the country because of lack of genomic surveillance to guide our decision on variants of concerns.
“Even though this variant is hyper transmissible, full vaccination series seems to protect against it.
“But you need both doses of series as one mRNA vaccine dose may not be enough”, she stressed.
She called on the Federal Government to embark on continuous monitoring and investigation to prevent COVID-19
and the third wave.
She added that the strategy of test, track, isolate, treat and vaccinate should be adopted in the entire country.
“The highly transmissible ‘Delta variant’ of COVID-19, first found in India, has now mutated further to form the Delta Plus or ‘AY.1′ variant.
“But again, the one very big piece of encouraging news is that the vaccines work extremely well against the variants based on evidence we have seen across the world.
“Variants of concern may be more transmissible, cause more severe disease and may be more resistant to vaccines and antibody therapies,” she added.
The expert explained that the main variant circulating around the world was still the B.1.1.7—the Alpha—also called the U.K. variant.
She explained that “the vaccines we presently have in the country work against this one. Next, there’s the B.1.351, the South Africa variant, also called Beta.
“Both Alpha B.1.1.7 and Beta B.1.351, the South Africa variants, are 50 per cent more transmissible than the original strain.
“The South Africa variants are the most resistant to vaccine neutralisation, so is the P.1 variant, aka the Gamma variant first detected in Japan and Brazil.
“The B.1.42s are COVID variants first identified in California in February 2021. They’re both referred to as Epsilon. Although they were downgraded to be 'variants of interest’ on June 25, they are still on the radar.
“India’s B.1.617 series has two Greek letters. The 0.2 version, that’s the B.1.617.2, is the Delta and the 0.1 version is Kappa.
“The 0.2 version, Delta (B.1.617.2) is the newest variant of concern, a variant of interest,” she said.
The virologist said that with the new contagious Delta variant on the scene, it may not be a matter of the vaccinated versus the unvaccinated but those vaccinated and those infected.
“And some of those infected may be asymptomatic but could still spread the virus to more vulnerable people across the country,” she said.
Adekunle noted that Nigeria now had three safe and highly effective COVID-19 vaccines, adding that Nigerians should take advantage of the availability and get vaccinated.
“The situation continues to look reassuring for anybody who is vaccinated.
“It is a pity that some Nigerians remain hesitant for a variety of reasons about getting vaccinated. And those unvaccinated Nigerians will remain vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreaks and to serious symptoms or even death.
“Those vaccines vastly reduce the number of cases of any kind and virtually eliminate death; get vaccinated to save your family and friends,” she advised.