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COVID-19: Omicron variant claim 3 million lives – Oxfam in Nigeria

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Oxfam in Nigeria on Thursday said over 3 million people have died since the emergence of omicron variant of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also stated that COVID-19 death toll have been four times higher in lower-income countries than in rich ones.

This was disclosed in new report published by Oxfam on behalf of the People’s Vaccine Alliance as the world marks two years since the World Health Organisation declared the pandemic.

The figure, according to Oxfam, shatters perceptions that Omicron’s milder illness means the pandemic is coming to an end, as the more contagious variant tears through unvaccinated populations.

According to the report, while the pandemic has been devastating for rich countries, the world’s poorest countries like Nigeria have been hardest hit with its effects, with women and children bearing a disproportionate burden.

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It says modelling using measures of excess deaths estimates that 19. 6 million people have died because of COVID-19, over three times the official death toll. Based on this analysis, Oxfam calculated that for every death in a high-income country, an estimated four other people may have died in a low or lower-middle-income country.

It added that on a per-capita basis, deaths in low and lower-middle-income countries are 31% higher than in high-income countries.

Oxfam’s calculation also indicates that three million COVID-19 deaths have occurred in three months since the Omicron variant emerged.

By some estimates, over half of humanity is set to have been infected with COVID-19 by the end of March 2022. While most cases will be mild, the sheer number of cases means that the numbers of deaths remain high.

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The report also outlines that: Every minute, four children around the world lost a parent or caregiver to Covid.

Women are reported to have been 1.4 times more likely to drop out of the labour force than men because of the pandemic.

Also, 99 percent of humanity is worse off because of COVID-19, 160 million people have been pushed into poverty, and 137 million people have lost their jobs.

During the pandemic, the world’s 10 richest men have seen their fortunes double, rising at a rate of $1.3 billion a day, or $15,000 dollars a second.

The new report also noted that lack of testing and inadequate reporting contribute to large numbers of deaths from COVID-19 especially in poorest countries.

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Oxfam also pointed out that while there has been a very significant drop in reported cases in Nigeria in recent times, Nigerians need to remain vigilant to keep the numbers down.

The Oxfam Country Director, Dr Vincent Ahonsi noted that the Nigerian “government needs to actively bridge the inequality gap between the rich and the poor by investing more in healthcare, agriculture and education; reviewing its tax policies in favour of the less privileged and more importantly, taking advantage of the COVID-related offers of debt relief to get its current debt service suspended, and negotiate a comprehensive cancellation of its overall debt as soon as possible”.

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