Nigeria has basic technology to produce vaccines –Virologist

Vaccine

A group of multidisciplinary biomedical and healthcare researchers have said Nigeria has the basic technology to produce vaccines.

The team led by the acting Head of Department, Microbiology, Adeleke University, Ede, Dr Oladipo Kolawole, is under the coordination of  the Vice-Chancellor, Precious Cornerstone University, Ibadan, Prof. Julius Oloke, Deputy Coordinators;  Prof. Olubukola Oyawoye of Federal University, Oye Ekiti and Prof. Olatunji Kolawole of University of Ilorin.

Kolawole, the founder of  Helix Biogen Institute told our correspondent that the team’s laboratory, had the required technology.

Kolawole was reacting to a report on Monday where the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said Nigeria did not have basic technology to know how to produce vaccines.

Ehanire was quoted in Abuja at the bi-weekly Ministerial Press briefing on COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in the country.

He said, “The urgency is now to have the technology to know how to produce vaccines.

“So we have brought together all our experts, including the producers of vaccines and manufacturers to find a way to have the technology in case of future outbreaks.’’

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However, Kolawole, said, ‘‘The government don’t have the basic technology but we have the basic technology in our lab at the Helix Biogen Institute. ‘

‘We have our in-house technology to design vaccine candidates, remember we were able to make WHO list, We were not able to synthesize in the country that is, we need to make it in liquid form to know the best conditions for production, but all other steps were carried out here.’’

He complained that it was same way  when coronavirus started in 2020,  saying the Federal Government said there were no molecular biologists in the country.

Kolawole revealed that he had finished the first phase of the animal trial using mice for accessing the safety, saying they would soon accessed the immunogenicity of the candidate vaccine.

‘‘We have finished the first phase of the animal trial using mice for accessing the safety. It was safe, we are in contact with CEPI to help out with the immunogenicity study and they have sent some forms to us. We will soon be accessing the immunogenicity of the candidate vaccine and we are collaborating with researchers in Kenya for the trial in monkeys, which will start any time soon,’’ he said.

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The research effort, which concluded its animal trial based has been listed by the World Health Organisation as number 61 out of 185 vaccine candidates globally.

The PUNCH had reported that the  Oladipo said it was unfortunate that the government and private individuals had not shown enough support to what he and his colleagues were doing.

“All we’ve got are commendation from Minister of Science and Technology as well as posts from former vice pricedent, Atiku Abubakar on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, but no financial support. The team is focused; we will keep moving and pushing until we get there. Though the pace might be slow but slow and steady win the race.’’

“We have three candidate vaccines for Lassa Fever Virus, one for Hepatitis E and one for Cholera. Although the team is working on pan-coronavirus vaccine which is different from the ones we had before, that is 70 per cent completed,” he added.

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