COVID-19: Nigerian scientists develop vaccines

By Olubunmi Osoteku, Ibadan

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A group of scientists from different institutions in Nigeria, coordinated by the Vice Chancellor, Precious Cornerstone University (PCU), Ibadan, say they have developed two potential vaccines that could prevent the Coronavirus pandemic currently ravaging the world.

According to the scientists, the research work has reached an advanced stage of animal trial experiment which would help to establish the veracity and efficacy of the vaccines for the prevention of the dreaded disease.

In a statement jointly signed by the PCU VC, Prof Kola Oloke and leaders of the team: Dr Oladipo Kolawole, a Microbiologist who specializes in Medical Virology (Immunology and Bioinformatics) from Adeleke University, Ede and Dr Ajayi Folorunsho, a Medical Physiologist with specialization in Pathophysiology from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, the researchers asserted that they were spurred into action by the need to rise to the challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic.

In the statement, the scientists noted, “We have worked extensively by exploring the SARS-CoV-2 genome from African countries to select the best possible potential vaccine candidates. After trying out some selected processes of vaccine development, we have been able to choose the best potential vaccine candidates for the SARS-CoV -2 and they have made the possible latent vaccine constructs.”

More solutions needed

The team pointed out that though the research was the collaborative effort of a number of scientists from different institutions/disciplines in the country, it was however carried out at Genomics Research Hub of Helix Biogen Consult in Ogbomoso and jointly funded by Trinity Immunoefficient Laboratory and Helix Biogen Consult, owned by Dr Oladipo Kolawole.

The scientists urged other researchers in Africa to rise up to the challenge offered by the period by coming up with more solutions, saying the understanding of genetic diversity/variability of the SARS-CoV-2 in Africa, is a very urgent assignment.

“There is a need for African scientists to wake up and provide more solutions to the pandemic specific for Africans. Therefore, this study was initiated to make significant scientific contributions to the development of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines,” the statement reads.

As the team prepares for the animal trial experiment of the vaccine billed to commence soon, the researchers expressed their joy at achieving the feat, adding that, “the findings from this research have shown the importance of multidisciplinary research efforts in healthcare. We are on the verge of something truly transformational in Nigeria and Africa and by extension, the world at large.”

While calling for financial assistance from government and relevant stakeholders so as to see the effort through, the scientists expressed happiness at the extent they have reached.

The statement says, “In summary, the team has been able to construct two potential vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 which should work in a much pretty way to protect the general populace against the novel COVID-19, if it becomes successful in the animal trial experiments. 

“The animal experiment will help us to validate the constructed vaccine, evaluate its effectiveness and safety. Therefore, we hereby call for support in various ways from non-governmental and governmental institutions to assist in the next steps of these novel vaccines development,” the scientists appealed.

Other key members of the team include: Dr Onile Olugbenga, who specializes in Molecular Epidemiology and Immunology from Elizade University, Ondo State; Dr Ariyo Olumuyiwa Elijah, who specializes in Infectious and Tropical Diseases from Federal Medical Center, Ido-Ekiti, Ekiti State and Dr. Folusho Ajayi, who specialises in Microbial and Molecular Biotechnology from the Massasoit Community College, Massasoit Boulevard, Brockton, US, among others.

 

Emmanuel Ukoh