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Nigerians join anti-COVID-19 drug battle

Published by The Nation on Wed, 13 Jan 2021


By Bolaji Ogundele, AbujaThe Presidency has hailed a team of Nigerian scientists and medical experts that researched into the effectiveness of Ivermectin in treating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).Expressing his delight while being briefed on the report by the team, led by Prof. Femi Babalola, the principal investigator, and Prof. Chris Bode, LUTH Chief Medical Director, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) said Nigeria and Nigerians are at the cutting edge of scientific research into the COVID-19 treatment.The team, composed of Nigerian scholars at home and abroad, has also submitted their report on the usefulness of the drug to the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has already appointed a Peer Review expert from the United Kingdom (UK).According to a statement issued by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Mr. Laolu Akande, Osinbajo said: We have an opportunity here and I am so fascinated to hear this drug has been used in the treatment of River Blindness in this country.Lauding the team, Osinbajo added that with the report, Nigeria was at an advantage both in knowledge and availability of the drug, especially since Ivermectin has been found useful not only in the treatment of COVID-19, but also as a prophylactic medication.Read Also; COVID-19: Govt to spend $8 each on vaccine for 144mHe said the Federal Government will explore further ways to support the research for the benefit of Nigerians and humanity generally, while also advancing the effective funding of scientific research in the country.Other members of the group named IVERCOVID Research Group are the Chairman of the Medical Advisory Council at LUTH, Prof. Lanre Adeyemo; a U.S.-based Clinical Pharmacologist Prof. Adesuyi Ajayi; two project virologists: Prof. S.A Omilabu and Dr. Olumuyiwa Salu; and also the Project Coordinator, Dr. Felix Alakaloko.Both Prof. Babalola and the LUTH CMD hailed the government for encouraging the research and thanked the Vice President for his role and support.The report is titled, A randomised controlled trial for the repurposing of Ivermectin in the management of COVID-19, and highlights are discussed below:The research, carried out in the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), was undertaken following the report of a 5,000-fold reduction in viral load by Australian workers with in-vitro use of Ivermectin on COVID-19 in culture.Akande, in the statement, explained that the PI has worked extensively with Ivermectin on the Onchocerciasis-River Blindness control programme, through which many Nigerians have used Ivermectin.The statement explained the study revealed that the mechanism of action of Ivermectin, include inhibiting viral entry into cells nucleus; and Direct suppression of viral RNA load of SARS CoV 2, among others.Ivermectin is orally absorbed with higher absorption as a solution better than tablets, and The Mean Residence Time (MRT) is 3.4 days. This informs the suggested frequency of dosing, i.e. twice a week.
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