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Govt Insists On Safety Of Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Despite Global Concerns



The Federal Government has maintained that Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is safe for Nigerians despite global concerns over its possible side effects.

The National Incident Manager of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr Mukhtar Muhammad said clinical trials had shown that side effects were generally mild.

According to Muhammad, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had in the last three days, through a series of briefings, vouched for the vaccine’s safety and efficacy, adding that it had been proved to have about 70% efficacy level.

He advised those who might have received the vaccine but who felt symptoms of its reactions for about 24 hours to report through right channels at the state level.

“The Nigerian health sector, the Federal Ministry of Health, the Nationali Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, are working also, not only to reassure Nigerians, but also to make a determination and to continue to get information regarding any side effects that people are experiencing in this country.

“So, with this, I will say that the available information from clinical trials has shown that the vaccine is generally safe and efficacious and that it has an efficacy of about 70%.

READ ALSO: CAN Takes Govt To Court Over CAMA

“The side effects are usually mild, which include fever, cough, symptoms of cold and maybe the general feeling of being unwell,” he said.

He also warned Nigerians to desist from flouting the COVID-19 protocols, challenging state authorities to intensify enforcement.

He also advised political and religious leaders not to make unverified comments, which he said were capable of sending wrong and misleading signals to the public on the management of the health crisis, advising that expert advice should be sought.

The chairman of the PTF and Secretory to Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, assured that government would prioritize the health of Nigerians.

He said: “The Nigerian authorities have tested and authorised the use of the vaccines because it is safe and efficacious.

“I however wish to reassure you that the government of Nigeria shall always prioritize the health of Nigerians.”

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Mental Health

Strong Mental Will: A Tool For Fulfilment Of Dreams 



The Futility Of A Marital Chase
Dr Hope Nwawolo

By Hope Nwawolo

As a young girl in a boarding school many years back, l found myself interested in reading articles and novels. One day, l picked a piece of torn paper from the ground and a particular sentence caught my attention.  It read, “…whatever you are as a young girl will determine what you become as an adult’’.  Without giving a thought to the fact that situations and people could change according to circumstances, my young mind went to work immediately, particularly on how l wanted to look as a woman years later. At that time, l was on the fat side. I told myself that l would not want to develop a bulging tummy as a woman. I never even gave thought to the changes women go through as a result of child bearing. However, my young mind knew l needed to do something immediately in order to achieve what l wanted many years after.  I took my house dresses and school uniforms and used my hands to take in the sides so that l had to tuck in my tummy any time l wore them.  Somehow l felt l could control my tummy from getting bigger if l kept it tucked in most of the time. And of a truth l did and needless to say that some students liked my style and did same to their uniforms. Talk about setting the pace!

At the time of taking the decision, l never even knew it was lady-like to tuck in your tummy. All l was seeing was me as a woman in future, without a bulging tummy. It never crossed my mind that child bearing or any abdominal surgery could discourage one from tucking in the tummy at will. And years later, after having four births, of which two where through caesarean sections, I have maintained the habit of tucking in my tummy and this has helped in sustaining a moderate waist line even as l increase in years.  

Another striking instance was when l went in for my masters’ degree. I told myself l would not stop my academic education until l had my doctoral degree. Sadly, before l finished the masters’ programme, l came across several doctoral students who had been on the  programme for upward of six years and were not near completion. I got discouraged and quietly finished my programme and did not look back. My mental will bowed to the discouraging sights of struggling doctoral students. Luckily, years after, the dream came alive again and l began to nurse it. Even after a professional masters’ programme, eight years after my first masters, l was still nursing the idea of a doctoral degree. Finally, fifteen years after my first masters’, I was going through the newspaper in my office when l came across a postgraduate admission advert of a private university. There and then, a strong desire to apply for a doctoral degree came over me and was so strong that l did not tell anybody so as not to get discouraged, particularly because of the high school fees. As a matter of fact, being a civil servant should have been my worry, but l just felt strong in my mind that it would work out itself.

Honestly, from the time of my sending my application to getting admission, I did not have the money for the first year of the four and half years programme and l did not want to further stress my husband who was paying school fees for my sons in private secondary school and private university. All the same, l was strongly determined to start it with complete trust that God would make the way as l went through the journey. With an undaunted mental will, He did beyond my expectations, with awesome colleagues, lecturers that were as interested for us to complete the programme as at when due as we were. 

One may want to ask how l was able to overcome the initial financial hurdle. Like l said, with the burning passion in me and a complete trust in God to provide the necessary fees, my eyes became open to certain opportunities of side hustle with two of my friends, which gave me added income to my salary. I immediately cut down on certain expenses like buying new clothes and frivolous social outings, and prioritised my needs, particularly as the school allowed for instalment payment of fees, over the semesters. 

To become mentally strong, is about shifting your whole perspective, since it is human nature to be afraid of things that we cannot control or to crumble in the face of difficulty. It is the fight or flight response that is embedded in who we are. Unfortunately, once you are in that mind-set you are giving your mental power away to a circumstance and the only power that you have is really the power of perception. And when you shift your perception and just feel like: I can handle this, I can do this,  I can turn this around, I can use this to my good — then you gain that ability. 

Mental strength is about knowing that you are creating your reality, just like l did as a young girl in secondary school. We create our reality by our thoughts, our beliefs, our actions, our habits. And sure, sometimes things happen out of our control, but most of the time, we do not go far away from achieving our dreams.  

 Nwawolo, PhD, writes in via


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Mental Health

How To Identify Fake Friends



Prof. Stella Roy-Omoni

Most people surround themselves with fake friends who are killing them subtly and are smiling with them. You need to identify the genuineness of your so- called friend before he/she destroys you.

Identifying a fake friend can involve noticing certain behavioral patterns:

1. Lack of Support: They might be absent or unsupportive during your challenging times, showing disinterest or avoiding your needs.

2. One-sided Relationships: They tend to benefit more from the friendship without reciprocating care or effort.

3. Gossip and Betrayal: Fake friends might gossip about you behind your back or betray your trust.

4. Inconsistent Behavior: Their actions and words may not align consistently, making it hard to trust them.

5. Conditional Friendship: They’re around only when it suits their interests or when they need something from you.

6. Manipulative or Self-centered:They may manipulate situations for their benefit or constantly talk about themselves without considering your feelings or experiences.

Being mindful of these traits can help distinguish between genuine friends and those who may not have your best interests at heart. Trusting your instincts and observing behaviors over time often reveals the authenticity of a friendship.

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Miniaturized Ultrasound Scanner Could Help Detect Breast Cancer Earlier



Conformable ultrasound breast patch - MIT researchers have designed a wearable ultrasound device that could detect breast tumours when they are still in early stages. (Courtesy: Canan Dagdeviren)

A wearable ultrasound scanner that could help detect breast cancer earlier – and thus improve survival rates – has been developed by a research team headed up at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Breast cancer is the most common cancer to affect women, with around 2.3 million new cases diagnosed worldwide in 2020. When caught in its early stages, the survival rate is nearly 100%, but this drops to 25% among patients whose tumours are detected at a late stage. Regular self-checks and mammograms can help secure positive outcomes.

However, in the UK, an estimated 39% of women do not regularly check their breasts for the signs of cancer – which can include shape changes, lumps or swelling.

On the screening front, notes surgical oncologist Tolga Ozmen of the Massachusetts General Hospital, “One of the main obstacles in imaging and early detection is the commute that people have to make to an imaging centre.” Yet even when people do undergo regular mammograms, breast tumours can still sneak up between screenings. These “interval cancers” make up 20–30% of all breast cancer cases, and their tumours tend to be more aggressive than those found during routine scans.

Galvanized by the death of her aunt – who was diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer at 49, despite regular check-ups – MIT engineer Canan Dagdeviren set about designing an easy-to-use device that could enable more frequent and even at-home screening.

“My goal is to target the people who are most likely to develop interval cancer,” explains Dagdeviren. “With more frequent screening, our goal is to increase the survival rate to up to 98%.”

To realize this vision, Dagdeviren, Ozmen and colleagues developed a miniaturized ultrasound scanner using a novel piezoelectric material fashioned into a phased array. The scanner fits inside a small tracker that’s inserted into a flexible, 3D-printed patch with a honeycomb-like pattern. The tracker can be moved along a path in the patch to provide imaging from six different positions, together affording coverage of the entire breast.

The whole set-up is worn by attaching the patch, via magnets, to a special bra containing openings where the scanner can contact the skin. The researchers note that the device, which they describe in Science Advances, does not require any special expertise to operate.


“We changed the form factor of the ultrasound technology so that it can be used in your home. It’s portable and easy to use, and provides real-time, user-friendly monitoring of breast tissue,” Dagdeviren explains.

To demonstrate the scanner’s potential, the team tested it on a 71-year-old patient with a known history of breast cysts. The wearable enabled the researchers to detect the cysts, which were as small as 3 mm in diameter, the same scale as early-stage tumours. Furthermore, the researchers report, the device achieved a resolution comparable to that of traditional ultrasound systems used in medical imaging centres and could image tissue to a depth of 8 cm.

At present, the scanner has to be connected to a traditional imaging system for its data to be visualized. However, the researchers are developing a miniaturized version – about the size of a smartphone – to add to their scanner. Other developments being planned include the integration of artificial intelligence-powered diagnostics and adaptation of the ultrasound technology for use on other parts of the body.

Sheng Xu – a materials scientist from the University of California San Diego who was not involved in the present study, but is also working on conformable ultrasound patch designs – called the device “impressive”. He adds: “The tracker in the bra could help standardize the ultrasound imaging procedure and minimize operator dependency, which plagues conventional ultrasound technology.”

Researchers demonstrate the positioning of the wearable BraCoil
Wearable coil vest could change the game in breast MRI

“This would be of great benefit to individuals and health services alike,” agrees biophysicist Jeff Bamber of the Institute of Cancer Research, who says that in the UK, pressure on imaging services in hospitals has helped generate waiting lists that are millions of patients long. Bamber notes that the low profile needed for wearables makes it difficult to build ultrasound transducer arrays without compromising on image quality.

He adds: “This group has incorporated single crystal piezoelectric array technology with advanced doping of the crystal, as used in modern conventional ultrasound probes. The result is good electromechanical coupling, good sensitivity and wide bandwidth, enabling them to achieve relatively good image quality to practically useful imaging depths.”

“With further development to produce images of diagnostic quality, the potential for use in home monitoring would be considerable,” Bamber tells Physics World.

. Physics World

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