French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday vowed to massively back the auto sector to help it recover as the coronavirus crisis has taken a toll on the country’s key industry.
“The health crisis massively and brutally brought the French car sector to a halt. This is a part of our economy, thousands of jobs,” Macron said on Twitter. “Our support will be massively amplified.”
Macron is to visit a car equipment factory in empales, near Le Touquet (Pas-de-Calais), where he is expected to unveil a support plan later Tuesday.
The automobile sector, which offers 400,000 direct jobs in France, had been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. It is the second sector to have a specific recover plan after tourism.
In a statement released on May 1, French Automobile Manufacturers Committee (CCFA) said sales of French brands plunged by 84.2 percent in April due to national coronavirus lockdown.
PSA, the country’s leading car manufacturer, saw 84.4 percent drop in its sales to 10,098 units, while Renault, the country’s second largest carmaker, offered 7,148 units, sharply down from 44,348 vehicle sold in April 2019. (1 euro = 1.095 U.S. dollars)
Whirlwind Bayern Munich dismantle Schalke 8-0 in season opener
Treble winners Bayern Munich crushed Schalke 04 8-0 with a hat-trick from Serge Gnabry and a superb debut from Leroy Sane on Friday.
It was a sensational start to the new Bundesliga season and the win sent an ominous warning to potential challengers.
Also, it was the biggest opening win in Bundesliga history.
Bayern Munich showed they had lost none of the sharpness which helped them to lift the UEFA Champions League trophy less than a month ago in dominant fashion.
Gnabry grabbed his first goal for the hosts with a fine turn and shot in the fourth minute in what turned out to be a one-sided affair.
It stretched Bayern Munich’s unbeaten run to 31 games this year, having now won the last 22 matches in a row.
Schalke 04, without a league win in 17 consecutive matches since January, were helpless against Bayern Munich’s lightning-quick game.
Leon Goretzka found plenty of space to drive a low shot past goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann in the 19th minute.
“You can see that the team was already strong last season,” said Sane, who joined from Manchester City. “The team is still hungry in spite of winning the treble last season and to have such a start is outstanding.”
Bayern Munich finished their season in August when they added the Champions League to their Bundesliga and German Cup titles and then had only a short preparation for the new season.
Last season’s top goalscorer Robert Lewandowski found the net with a 31st minute penalty kick to become the first player to score in 10 successive appearances against the same Bundesliga opponents.
Gnabry then scored twice from Sane’s assists in the 47th and 59th before Thomas Mueller made it half a dozen after Lewandowski set him up with an impressive rabona kick.
Sane then capped his superb Bayern Munich debut with a fine finish from a counter attack in an empty Allianz Arena.
This was after the city had banned spectators due to rising coronavirus infection numbers in the region.
A little later substitute Jamal Musiala drilled in goal number eight to become the youngest ever Bayern Munich goalscorer in the league at 17 years old.
The result piled more pressure on already-embattled Schalke 04 coach David Wagner, who has been under intense scrutiny during their winless run this year.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
NIMR unveils COVID-19 molecular testing kit
Speaking at the unveiling, Prof. Babatunde Salako, Director General of NIMR, said the equipment was developed to ease the challenges posed by the current method which required heavy laboratory and expensive equipment to function.
“As a foremost research institute in Nigeria with a mandate to conduct research into diseases of public health importance like COVID-19 pandemic which at present a difficult management challenge for scientists.
“While no effective vaccine has been develop till date, case detection remains the surest way of controlling the pandemic.
“Seeing that molecular laboratories remain limited in number and remote areas are at disadvantaged in getting tested and limited testing centres.
“Our researchers once again swung into action to develop a point of care molecular test for COVID-19 to ease the challenges of getting a molecular laboratory which requires huge fund.
“The Isothemal used for our point of care testing cost 9500 dollars which is cheaper than the regular real time PCR equipment which cost about 100,000 dollars.
“This test reagent can be produced in country with 80 per cent to 90 per cent locally sourced material,” he said.
According to him, a NIMR research team, led by Dr Chika Onwuamah, a Senior Research Scientist, developed a molecular test for coronavirus that gives test result in less than 40 minutes.
He thanked Fate Foundation, for supporting the research with N20million through its Fate Philanthropy Coalition for COVID-19 Support.
“We are very grateful for the support given to the institute to develop the assay which is not only first of its kind in the country but also in Africa.
“The objective of the grant was to develop a fast multiplex isothermal assay for SARS-CoV-2 while we also designed and evaluated primers and probes for multiplex.
“Work is currently ongoing on a simple release reagent to simplify the RNA extraction step and the assay development procedure involve both bioinformatic analysis designing the primers and probes.
“To date we have a working assay guaranted to test 100 copies/ml of SARs-CoV-2 RNA, as we continue to improve on the detection limit,” he said.
“SIMA works at one temperature and that is why it is called isothermal which makes it far cheaper and faster,” he said.
On the duration of the research, the Senior Researcher said the project started around May, noting that there was a bit delay due to COVID-19 induced lockdown.
Onwuamah, however, called for more support to aid scientists in the country to carryout research work on public health emergency such as COVID-19.
“Support for scientists in Nigeria need to be strong because we have a lot to give but the enabling environment is not visible.
” This research work cost close to N10million before we arrive here and it is a continuous thing because we have to keep improving on what we have developed,” he said.
Mrs Adenike Adeyemi, Executive Director of Fate Foundation, said the foundation established the support fund to assist the ongoing national and local efforts to strengthen public health infrastructure.
Adeyemi said the focus was to key into government effort to properly equip and support public health facilities and frontline health workers.
“This foundation was founded 20 years ago by Fola Ade with a goal to enable aspiring and emerging Nigerians to excel in their prospective fields.
“The foundation have supported in the fight against the ravishing pandemic through our various programmes and with the support of 61 individual donors and institute.
“We are happy to be part of this huge research development that will go a long way to ease some of the present challenges in the fight against the virus,” she said.
Edited By: Wale Ojetimi
Nigeria, EU envoys meet to resolve access to airspace, travel ban
The Federal Government and envoys of the European Union (EU) on Friday in Abuja met to resolve the issue of access to airspace following the ban on some airlines by the Nigerian government.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the meeting is coming after the Federal Government opened its airspace on September 5.
Speaking to journalists at the end of the closed door meeting, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the meeting was at the instance of the EU envoys.
Onyeama said that the meeting also discussed the issue of access to the European space of passengers coming from Nigeria, stating that the Nigerian side was very keen on knowing what exactly applied to Nigerians.
He further said there was obviously some misinformation which made the situation altogether not very clear.
“We understand that this has created some concerns and tensions, so we are here to listen to each other, diplomatically and politely.
“And in a friendly manner to try and see how we can begin to resolve outstanding issues of concern on either side.
“So, what we have asked the European side, to let us have, is the detailed information on Nigerians that can access European space from Nigeria.
“So, which category of Nigerians can in this present time and with the release and restrictions announced by the EU are affected? Who are the people considered on essential travel?
“And what chances does an average Nigerian have to visit a European country from here?
“So, to give us that information so that every Nigerian will be in a position to know whether they can access the European space irrespective of the fact whether they have a visa or no visa.
“There are a lot of Nigerians who have long-term visas, two-year Schengen visa and so forth and clearly, not all of them are able or have to write now as it stand, to enter Europe. So, we want to have that information,”Onyeama stated.
Onyeama also said that the Nigerian side decided and pointed out that just as the EU reviews its policies every two weeks, the Nigerian Government is also doing same and also look into the policies during PTF meetings.
Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria, said the availability of flights from Europe to Nigeria was very essential due to the ongoing collaboration between the EU and Nigeria.
Karlsen also said the EU appealed to its partners on the Nigerian side to reconsider the possibility of having again, some of the larger air carriers from Europe, flying with Nigeria.
He added that Nigeria was never picked out, even as he said there was never a ban against flights coming from Nigeria to Europe.
“Nigeria was never picked out, there was never a ban against flights coming from Nigeria to Europe, there was never, as I see it, a retaliation or reciprocity at play here.
“Merely, what Europe has done is exactly the same that Nigeria has done namely, looking at very carefully, what essential groups of people should come in a time of crisis.
“And how can we provide protocols to handle that in terms of testing and isolation, if needed,”Karlsen said.
In his remarks, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said Europe is the strongest partner of Nigeria as far as the aviation sector is concerned.
Sirika said that whatever was done was not targeted at the EU and was subject to review.
NAN reports that in attendance from the Nigerian side were the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire; Minister of State, Health, Senator Olurunnimbe Mamora; the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu.
The EU delegation included the Ambassadors of Germany, Netherlands, and France.
Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Wale Ojetimi
Pharmaceutical Products: Nigeria plans 60% local production
Prof. Moji Adeyeye, Director-General of National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), says the country is working toward producing 60 per cent of its pharmaceutical products locally to reduce the over-dependence on international companies.
Adeyeye said this at a virtual conference with the theme “Seizing the Moment: Providing Faster Access to Quality Medical Products during COVID-19 and Beyond”, organised by the Management Sciences for Health (MSH) in partnership with Deloitte, a multinational professional services network.
The conference which had participants from some African countries was specifically on novel approaches emerging from COVID-19 response that can be effectively leveraged to respond to the pandemic, especially in Africa.
Adeyeye said the coronavirus pandemic was an eye opener to the world and as such efforts should be made to accelerate progress toward universal health coverage.
“Right now, we manufacture only 30 per cent of our products locally, and import 70 per cent; the goal is to change it to around 60 per cent locally and 40 per cent import.
“That is going to really contribute positively to reducing falsified substandard medicines and improve the health of the population,” she said.
According to Adeyeye, pharmaceutical manufacturing industries cannot survive without good regulatory system and as such stringent measures are to be adopted for a healthy system.
“We have also faced challenge of herbal medicine unspecified claims (unproved claim) for cure of COVID-19, so we have to also contend with that.”
Dr John Nkengaso, Head of Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in his view noted that Africa was able to overcome the over 2 million COVID-19 death projection due to partnership and collaboration of its leaders.
Nkengaso said that accurate diagnosis and power of partnership where public and private sector came together to solve a common problem, were other factors that assisted Africa in navigating the pandemic.
“We were told by the Taskforce in Geneva that after a period of two months the continent will witness over 2million deaths, so we decided as a continent to regroup and figure out ways to diagnose ourselves,” Nkengaso said.
Mr Kofi Nyame, one of the MSH supply chain experts, said the role of pharmaceutical system in this pandemic era should be to get the people ready for other pandemics.
“COVID-19 has served as a magnifying lens for us; it has exposed the inherent weaknesses.
“We know that substandard products are all over in Africa and a greater percentage of our medicines are substandard but the only way out is to strengthen the pharmaceutical systems to ensure that the service delivery is properly monitored.
“We need to ensure that there is a system to regulate, select and distribute medicine. This is how to ensure quality and efficacy,” Nyame said.
He advocated for good supply chain management, strong regulator and use of modern tools to mitigate crisis as solutions to providing faster access to quality medical products during and post COVID-19 era.
Edited By: Peter Ejiofor)