Exploring Indigenous Response at Mitigating the Corona Virus Pandemic

The looming second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has become a threat to many nations around the world; more dreadful is the fact that the virus has now mutated becoming more malignant. Keen efforts are being made by Health organizations to develop a vaccine and probable cure to the virus; these have been ongoing from the very beginning when the pandemic first broke out in 2019. Several vaccines have been developed and tested with the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine being the most recent vaccine to be developed and currently being distributed to a few countries around the world. The Centers for Disease Control and prevention(CDC) have approved the vaccine recommending it for people aged 16 years and older while warning that those who have had severe allergic reactions to any ingredient in the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine not to get vaccinated. These efforts to develop a vaccine have become pertinent considering the continuous wide spread of the virus despite measures that have been put in place. Worldwide, a total of 81, 357,166 cases have been reported with a total of 1,776,051 deaths. Although a total of 57, 475,344 persons have recovered from the virus so far.

There have been several calls for the Nigerian government to sponsor and promote the production of locally made vaccines that will be designed to suit the nature of the African biological makeup. Nigeria has recorded a total number of 84,414 cases with a recovery number of 71,034 and a total of 1,254 deaths with states such as Lagos, the Federal Capital Territory, Oyo, Rivers and Plateau having the highest numbers of reports cases. Plateau State being among the top charters has recorded a total number of 3,693 cases with a total of 33 deaths and 3,639 recoveries, the Governor of the state also tested positive to the coronavirus in December 2020. Considering the continuous spread of the virus, the long waiting period for the arrival of the vaccines as well as the peculiarities of the health sector in the country and its inability to receive, adequately store and eventually distribute the vaccines, especially if the virus were to spread exponentially, will easily throw anybody in a frantic mode. There is a great need for the production of an indigenous vaccine.

In a press statement released on October 16, 2020 the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari announced that Nigeria was going to join the urgent global call for COVID-19; In his statement he endorsed the initiative stating that, “Learning from the painful lessons from a history of unequal access in dealing with diseases such as HIV we must heed the warning that “ those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it” he further stated that “only a people’s vaccine with equality and solidarity at its core protect all of humanity and get our societies safely running again… The People’s vaccine Alliance is a coalition of organizations and activities united under a common aim of campaigning for a people’s vaccine for COVID-19; it demands that all vaccines, treatments and test be monopoly-free, mass produced, distributed fairly and made available to all people, in all countries, free of charge. This is in support of the actions taken by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The presidential task force set up to lead the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic in the country has overtime outlined a significant body of work undertaken to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Several reports have emerged on the negative side effects of the Pfizer vaccine in certain areas of the world and on certain racial biological make up. A story of a 75 year old man who died two hours after getting the COVID-19 vaccine was reported by THE NATION online newspaper. The man was said to have suffered certain complications just hours after receiving the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine and was later confirmed dead from a heart failure.

In another development, reports have been made of African Americans rejecting the vaccine. In one report written by Monica Coleman (ABC10) and Vand Tieu (ABC10), it was stated that nearly one third of the African Americas are hesitant to get the vaccine; majority says that they are concerned about possible side effects, while half are worried that they will get Covid-19 from taking the vaccine. It further stated that 48% say they have general distrusts in vaccines. Most of these notions are birthed out of the distrust developed over years by the African Americans who have historically been used by doctors and scientists in medical studies without their permission as well as the lack of access to healthcare.

Some medical lab.scientists within Nigeria have emphasized the fact that the vaccine might not be effective for Nigerians emphasizing that it might cause more harm instead. Therefore there is a need to research on and develop vaccines that are indigenous; medical lab scientists have continuously stated that they are in fact capable of developing such vaccines. In his previous publications Salami O. Matthew, who is also a medical lab scientist and a lecturer with the Federal School of Medical Laboratory Science, Jos, had mentioned various scientific research that have been carried out by medical lab scientists in the country and the probable effective vaccines they have produced. It seemed plausible when the government had stated in a press statements given by the Presidential task force that is was going to work with the medical lab scientists as well as the Nigerian Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to develop an indigenous vaccine earlier this year. Although no concrete report of a vaccine developed has been produced so far, the country has the potential to develop its very own vaccine having quite a number of efficient medical science centers.

It was a commendable effort by the Federal Government to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and Biovaccine Nigeria Limited (BVNL) on November 5, 2020. The minister for health, Dr. Osagie Enahire described the event as “a milestone in our national desire for self-reliance in vaccine production.” He state that the pandemic brought the attention of the country to the need for domestic production capabilities of vaccines among other commodities as well as self-sufficiency in other endeavors with efforts being made to support home grown manufacturing of healthcare commodities.

If such efforts will go beyond the paper work and set up, then Nigeria will definitely be on the road to the development of her manufacturing industries and becoming fully self-sufficient.

Is a Medical Laboratory Scientist with M.Sc in Medical Microbiology, Master of Education in Educational technology and Bachelor Degree in Med Laboratory Science