The Federal government has said that it is in a hurry to obtain a homegrown cure for the coronavirus disease just like other countries of the world and assured indigenous researchers who have developed any potential drug for Covid-19 that their drugs will receive appropriate certification if found fit for human consumption.
On Tuesday, Nigeria recorded 146 new cases of COVID-19, bringing to 4787 the total number of confirmed cases in the country. It also recorded eight deaths from the disease in the last 24 hours, totaling 158 since the outbreak started February 27. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said Lagos recorded 57 new cases, Kano 27, Kwara 10, Edo nine, Bauchi eight, Yobe seven, Kebbi and Oyo four each, Katsina and Niger three each, Plateau, Borno, Benue and Sokoto two each, while Gombe, Enugu, Ebonyi, Ogun, Federal Capital Territory FCT) and Rivers one each. It said: “Nigeria had recorded 4787 cases of COVID-19. 959 have been discharged, while 158 persons have died.”
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha who disclosed the FG’s commitment to find a homegrown cure at the daily update on COVID-19 in Abuja, observed that since the recording the index case, Nigerians have clamored for research into home grown solutions for Covid-19. He noted that some countries are trying to abridge the processes of trials to shorten the time as there seems to be no prospect for a vaccine to be on the shelve until towards the end of 2021 even by western big-pharmaceutical companies that have perfected the processes of manufacturing vaccines.
Mustapha therefore appealed to researchers to be patient and subject their drugs to regulatory processes so that if their drugs are found fit for human consumption, they will receive appropriate certification. His words: “I Iistened to one of the drug manufacturers in US saying that they will provide the world with billions of vaccine by the end of 2021. We are in 2020 and this is the time Covid-19 is ravaging the entire world but we are not in a hurry to release those drugs, so my appeal to our homegrown researchers is to be patient and go through regulatory process so that if their drugs are found fit for human consumption, they will receive appropriate certification.
“The processes of examining, trials and validation of drugs are staggered in different stages and takes a very long time and government will not like to end up with a situation the country had in the past with a polio vaccine by one of the manufacturers which became a subject of litigation. The PTF, as part of its mandate, has continued to promote research and wishes to repeat its appeal to all our researchers to go through the validation process so as to enable humanity benefit from their hard work and they in turn benefit from the intellectual property rights associated with such research”.
The SGF called on corporate citizens and public-spirited individuals to invest into the rural health infrastructure to enable the country contain the community spread of Coronavirus. Mustapha observed that given the impact of the Covid-19 on global economy and national income, it has become obvious that government alone cannot bear this burden as the situation requires a great deal of investment in strengthening the primary health care system, the manpower and the infrastructure.
He said, “As we continue to learn the lessons from Covid-19 by fortifying our health systems and infrastructure against present and future pandemics, I wish to remind Nigerians that there is still a lot to be done and investment to make. The PTF mentioned at the briefing on Monday 11th May, 2020 that it had commenced focus on community ownership, guidance, acceptance and implementation in the control of COVID-19. The SGF warned Nigerians against the use of recycled surgical face masks picked from dump sites adding that the use of recycled face mask was not only hazardous to the user but also others. Mustapha who also spoke against the sharing of masks noted that such actions could lead to the risks of contracting the Coronavirus and urged Nigerians to always dispose properly of their surgical masks or at best burn them.
On his part, PTF Coordinator, Dr. Sani Aliyu stated that any medication coming into the country whether herbal cure or concoction must be subjected to regulatory processes, adding that the Madagascar cure being expected into the country will be subjected to a rigorous validation process within the legal framework to ascertain its safety and efficacy before it can be administered to Nigerians.
Also speaking, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire urged the organs of State to maintain vigilance at the borders, including our Port Health Services. Ehanire observed that the Federal Ministry of Health has been closely monitoring and reviewing the unfolding situation in some States, where covid19 appears to have gained ground and had responded to the situation in Kano by dispatching a team of medical experts to provide technical support to the State Ministry of Health.
He commended the ongoing initiative being developed by the Governors’ Forum, to give each other mutual support, by rallying available human resource for Health volunteers from States, to support other States with high burden and manpower shortages. Ehanire noted that government will continue to ramp up Covid-19 testing capacity by adding three new molecular laboratories to our network: at Benin City and 2 in Port Harcourt, which brings the present total to 25 while an Expert Advisory Committee will assist with an audit of our laboratory processes with a view to offering suggestions on strategies to reduce testing turn-around time and other user interest matters.