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Corona War: S Korea Foils N Korean Attempt To Hack COVID-19 Vaccine Maker

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South Korea said its intelligence agency has foiled North Korean attempts to hack into its companies developing coronavirus vaccines.

The News1 agency reported this on Friday, citing a member of the parliamentary intelligence committee.

Legislator Ha Tae-keung said after being briefed by the National Intelligence Service the agency did not specify how many and which drugmakers were targeted but said there was no damage from the hacking attempts, News1 said.

There was no immediate response from North Korea to the allegation.

Last week, Microsoft said hackers working for the Russian and North Korean governments had tried to break into the networks of seven pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers in South Korea, Canada, France, India and the United States.
Advanced economies are in a race to develop, produce and distribute an effective vaccine against the coronavirus.

The persistent and continuing attacks on coronavirus vaccine research around the world are seen by intelligence officials as an effort to steal intellectual property, rather than disrupt the research itself.

In July, Chinese-backed hackers were also accused of targeting the biotech company Moderna – a leading United States-based coronavirus vaccine research developer – in a bid to steal valuable data. Earlier this month, Moderna said its vaccine had been shown to be 94.5 percent effective in large scale trials.

The attempted hacking in South Korea was revealed as the country grappled with a third wave of the pandemic. On Friday, it reported 569 new cases, the second day in a row that infections have risen by more than 500.

The death rate, however, remains low with one more death reported on Friday, bringing the total number of deaths to 516 – among the lowest in developed nations

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Nigeria: 5.8 million COVID Infections Averted With 2020 Lockdown

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As Nigeria grapples with rising infections caused by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, a team of international public health researchers have revealed that the lockdown and restrictions imposed in the country between March and May 2020 may have averted not less than 5.8 million infections.

The team of researchers drawn from the United States, South Africa and Nigeria, said their findings “support the use of restricted mobility as a measure for infection control in Nigeria.”

They however, pointed out that, even during the lockdown and restrictions, noticeable spikes in people’s movement occurred on Saturdays and Sundays which could be attributed to social events (e.g. parties [or Ówàmbē in a local dialect]) and religious activities.

The research findings which are based on information from confirmed COVID-19 cases provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) from February 27 to July 21 2020 and Nigeria specific mobility data from Google in same period, was published by the highly reputable public health journal JAMA Network Open.

The researchers are drawn from institutions in the United States (i.e. Parexel International, Harvard university and Holly Hill hospital), South Africa (i.e. Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University) and Nigeria (i.e. Benue State University as well as Universities of Ibadan, Lagos and Calabar).

The researchers explained that their work was motivated by the need to better understand how the lockdown affected peoples’ movement and community spread of COVID-19: this information could inform future public health responses to subsequent waves of COVID-19.

“.. our study goals were to measure the association of government-mandated closures and restrictions with aggregate mobility, to evaluate associations between aggregate mobility and number of individuals with laboratory confirmed SARS-COV-2 infections and to estimate the number of SARS COV-2 infections that may have been averted.

They observed that the World Health Organization (WHO), Director General , Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had on January 30, 2020 declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, asking all countries to prepare for containment, active surveillance, early detection, isolation, case management and contact tracing.

“Most countries including Nigeria (Africa’s largest economy and the most populous country), responded accordingly, and part of the Nigerian government response included socioeconomic and public health interventions to reduce impact of the pandemic.

“Socio economic interventions included providing cash transfers, lines of credit and food assistance to poor and high-risk households, while public health interventions included government-mandated closures and restrictions on schools, social gatherings and all forms of transportation (locally referred to as lockdown)

The closures and restrictions were initiated on March 30, 2020 and partially eased on May 4, 2020. The researchers used sophisticated statistical techniques to analyze NCDC data on daily infection counts, anonymized Google mobility data from Nigeria (covering about 40 million individuals who activated location history on their smartphone google accounts), and publicly available information on the lockdown (e.g. dates for initiating and partially easing the lockdown).

The cross-sectional study found that government-mandated closures and restrictions in Nigeria owing to COVID-19 was associated with significantly reduced aggregate mobility everywhere (except in residential areas) and may have averted up to 5.8 million corona virus infections. Additionally, they found that community spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria may have been faster in residential areas , transit stations (e.g. motor parks) and workplaces (including likely venues of social events).

While stressing that “our findings support the use of restricted mobility as a measure of infection control in Nigeria should there be additional COVID-19 waves in the future”, the researchers pointed out that “restrictions on movement are unsustainable in the long term, and that “future closure and restrictions, if warranted, need to be more effective.

“Suggested areas of improvement include tougher restrictions on movement and more robust contact tracing in residential areas, transit hubs and workplaces, greater testing capacity and more political support for testing; greater access to COVID-19 data for policy and process evaluation to identify opportunities for efficiency gains: and more personal responsibility above and beyond the public health campaign dubbed the 3 Ws (i.e washing hands (or using hand sanitizer regularly wearing a cloth mask over the nose and mouth, and waiting 6 feet apart (or social distancing).”

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Gov’ Fayemi Congratulates Father Kukah On New Appointment

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Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi has congratulated the Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Most Revd (Dr) Matthew Hassan Kukah on his appointment into the papal dicastery on the promotion of integral human development.

The Governor, in a personally signed congratulatory letter dated 19th January 2021, stated that the appointment was an unequivocal expression of Pope Francis’ confidence in Bishop Kukah’s ability to be an “impeccable advisor on a wide range of human development issues”.

Dr Fayemi described the dicastery as a perfect place for Kukah because it is one of the apostolic ministration of the papal in “reaching the weak, seeking social justice and ending all forms of practices inimical to the dignity of man”.

“It goes without saying that your role as a pastor, social commentator, public intellectual, peace-maker, interfaith conciliator and fighter for the rights of the underprivileged, readily recommend you for this latest addition to your enviable pedigree as a social justice crusader”, the Governor said.

Fayemi added that he had no doubt that the Bishop would bring his competence and character to bear on his new role.

” On behalf of my wife, the government and good people of Ekiti State, kindly accept my best wishes as you resume your new role” , the Governor added.

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Northern Elders To Akeredolu: Your Quit Notice On Herdsmen Provocative

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The Northern Elders’ Forum on Wednesday described as provocative and unhelpful an order given to Fulani herdsmen to leave Ondo forests by the State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, adding that it was shocked to have heard such directive.

The forum, which warned the governor not to allow mischief-makers to compound security challenges in the country with his order, urged him “to rescind his order on the Fulani, or clarify his position in the event that he is misunderstood.”

In a statement signed by Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the forum argued that Akeredolu as a senior lawyer should know that Nigerian constitution does not give him the power to deny any Nigerian the right to live where he chooses if he does not break the law in the process.

It would be recalled that Ondo State governor had ordered Fulani herdsmen residing in the various forests of the State to vacate in order to curb the rising cases of kidnapping cases in the State.

But NEF said that if there were criminal elements among the Fulani herders who live in the State, the Governor should take appropriate steps to identify them and deal with them.

The forum maintained that it was dangerous and unacceptable to profile and demonize the Fulanis and treat them outside the laws of the land like all other Nigerians.

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