ABUJA - The Federal Government said yesterday that claims by some local researchers that they have developed a cure for COVID-19 have fallen flat in the face of scientific investigations.
According to government, of the 19 claims subjected to validation protocols by the Federal Ministry of Health, only three passed preliminary stages and worthy of further investigations.
The Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19 disclosed this yesterday at its daily berifeing, adding that it had been deliberating on the need to re-open schools and gave conditions for re-opening of schools which would be fumigated in collaboration with sub-national entities.
The PTF, which is promising that safety measures would be put in place before such a decision was taken, also restated its earlier decision to redefine the country’s case management system in the light of new research outcomes indicating that the virus was no longer infectious after 10 days of administering treatments to patients. It expressed support to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on its decision to work with relevant stakeholders to pilot the introduction of electronic voting in 2021.
Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha, noted that the subject of research had been central to the mandate, thinking and planning of the PTF, but said of the numerous local drug claims evaluated, only three passed the preliminary stages.
He said: “As a measure of the importance attached to research and development of local capacity for finding a cure to the COVID-19, the Federal Ministry of Health held a virtual meeting with a number of researchers and scientists with claims to cure for COVID-19 and of the numerous claimants, three were found to deserve further investigation and have been forwarded to the relevant authorities for appropriate review.
“Similarly, efforts are being made by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology to subject a good number of locally manufactured COVID-19 equipment to verification and subsequent certification.” He appreciated the lower rate of transmission and case fatalities in Africa but added that countries in the region needed to progressively increase their capacity to detect cases, not just to know the extent of the outbreak, but also to identify and initiate care for people most at risk.
“They also need to expand capacity to mitigate the implications of widespread community transmission of COVID-19.
“Above all, more research to determine the underlying factors for the current trend in the pandemic in Africa is needed. In addition to pursuing this line of thought, the occurrences in Kano and some other cities have given us cause to launch our research initiatives using existing structures and systems in a manner that will build a legacy and also prepare Nigeria for any future pandemic. “The PTF is happy to note that the Central Bank of Nigeria has indicated its willingness to support research efforts. This is, therefore, a call on our researchers and scientists to take up the challenge.
As Nigeria progresses into the closing days of the extension of the eased lockdown (Phase 1), I wish to assure all Nigerians that Muhammadu Buhari’s administration feels the economic pains they are passing through and it is for this reason that beyond the number of stimulus packages, especially for citizens that rely on daily subsistence, the gradual opening up of the economy is also a strategy in preparing for a post-COVID economy.”
The SGF noted that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation was faced with the challenge of out-of-school children, adding that this had now been compounded by the compelling need to close schools as part of measures to limit the spread of the virus. “The PTF wishes to use the occasion of this Children’s Day celebration to congratulate our children and assure them, their parents and all stakeholders alike, that all hands are on deck to reopen the schools at a safe time.
”We, therefore, use this medium to urge states, local governments, proprietors and other stakeholders to begin to take steps that will facilitate an early and safe re-opening.”
In his presentation, the Minister of state, Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, disclosed that he had chaired a virtual meeting with several traditional and complementary medicine practitioners as of last Thursday. He said; “There are global efforts to find a cure for the disease and Nigeria is part of that effort. We have received a few proposals for local remedies for the disease and these have been forwarded to the relevant agencies for evaluation.
”For a preparation to be approved for use in Nigeria, it must be subjected to safety, toxicological and efficacy tests as well as clinical trials. “Last week, I led the Federal Ministry of Health team to a virtual meeting with Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Practitioners to discuss and explore opportunities for local solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic.
”The meeting provided an opportunity for the practitioners to understand the procedures for validating medicines for use in the country. We were also able to find common grounds for collaboration. Government will support every genuine efforts aimed at finding a local solutions to the pandemic.
“On what transpired last Thursday, we had 19 traditional and herbal practitioners in attendance. Five of them were physically present at the conference centre where we had the engagement and others were online. ”Of course, in attendance were the heads of the various and relevant agencies like NAFDAC, NIMR, NIPRD, the president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Academics, Chairman of Ethics Committee and other stakeholders.
”What we did was to ask each of those present, that is, the traditional medical practitioners to name their products and tell us at what stage they were, whether they have been listed with NAFDAC because that is the first stage.
”NAFDAC will have to determine its fitness for human consumption. Its fitness, not its efficacy and not clinical trial. So, knowing those that had registered with NAFDAC and those who had not and, of course, what the remedy claims to do, whether it has to do with remission of symptoms or the shortening of the period of hospitalisation or whether it is to achieve cure. ”Then we asked each of them to state the challenges. At the end of the interaction, what came out essentially was that one, practitioners still have issues regarding the procedure for getting listed with NAFDAC.
Second, the issue of protection of intellectual property rights. Everyone of them was scared that how were they sure that somebody would not go behind to patent their own intellectual property? So, they needed to be assured that would not happen, that there will be an agreement to be signed on to.
”Third is the issue of funding because every of these processes require funding. The other issue they came up with was a request to have traditional medicine wards to exist side by side orthodox medicine wards which is not really strange. ”It is happening in Ghana. It is happening in some other countries like China and so on. Then there was a request to fast track some of these processes. They also asked how they can get patients who would volunteer themselves for trials.
”These were the challenges that we observed as put across to us and we are taking these further and we are working to see how we can fast track the processes without under-cutting anything.
“While we are anxious to find a cure for the disease, the Federal Government will not compromise the health of any Nigerian. We are not prepared to do trial and error with the health of our people. Whatever is approved for use in Nigeria must meet the required standard as determined by the relevant agencies.” (vanguard)
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