WHO appoints NCDC boss, Ihekweazu Asst. DG
The Director General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Chikwe Ihekeazu, has been appointed Assistant Director General of Health Emergency Intelligence at the World Health Organization, WHO.
Ihekweazu’s appointment which comes into effect in November 1, 2021 was disclosed in a letter signed by the WHO Director General, Tedros Ghebreyesus.
“I am pleased to welcome Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu as an Assistant Director for Health Emergency Intelligence from November 1, 2021.
“He will lead the work on strengthening pandemic and epidemic intelligence globally, including heading the WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin.
“Dr. Ihekweazu is currently the Director-General of Nigerian Centre for Disease Control. He was trained as an infectious disease epidemiologist, has over 20 years of experience working in senior public health and leadership positions in several National Public Health Institutes, including the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases, the United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency, and Germany’s Robert Koch Institute.
“He has led several short term engagements for WHO, mainly in response to several major infectious disease outbreaks around the world.
“Dr. Ihekweazu, a Nigerian national who was born in Germany is a graduate of the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria and has a Masters in Public Health from the Heinrich-Heine University, Dusseldorf, Germany.
“In 2003, he was awarded a Fellowship for the European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training and subsequently completed his Public Health specialization in the United Kingdom. He is widely published in medical peer-reviewed journals”.
Meanwhile, a new variant of the Covid-19 virus known as Mu or B1621 which was first identified in Columbia in January 2021, is being carefully monitored by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Disclosing this on Tuesday it its weekly pandemic bulletin, the global health agency said Mu, which has been classified as a “variant of interest” has mutations that indicate a risk of resistance to vaccines even as it noted that further studies were needed to better understand it.
“The Mu variant has a constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape”, the bulletin said.
There is widespread concern over the emergence of new virus mutations as infection rates spike globally again, with the highly transmissible Delta variant taking hold, especially among the unvaccinated and in regions where anti-virus measures have been relaxed.
After being detected in Columbia, Mu has since been reported in other South American countries and in Europe.
The WHO said its global prevalence has declined to below 0.1 per cent among sequenced cases. In Columbia, however, it is at 39 per cent.
In a related event, South African scientists are monitoring another variant of concern called C.1.2, that can mutate almost twice as fast as other global variants.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases, NICD, said that frequency of C.1.2 remains relatively low, however, it has so far been found in three per cent of genomes sequenced since it was first picked up in May- although this has increased from 0.2 to 2 per cent in July.
The variant has been detected in South Africa’s provinces, as well as in nine countries including Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Botswana, China, New Zealand, Portugal, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.