By Our Reporter
Nigeria has recorded significant progress towards finding a cure for the much-dreaded coronavirus or Covid-19 as a Nigerian Professor of Pharmacognosy, Prof. Maurice Iwu has claimed discovery of a drug with a potential treatment agent for coronavirus infections.
Professor Iwu disclosed this while briefing the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu in his office on Monday in Abuja.
The Minister of state for Health, Sen. Dr. Adeleke Mamora and the Minister of State for Science and Technology, Barrister Mohammed Abdullahi were also at the briefing.
According to professor Iwu, his institute, the Bio-Resources Institute of Nigeria (BION) has concluded arrangements with the Anti-viral programme of the United States of America National Institute of Health to subject compounds from Nigerian plants against the Wuhan coronavirus or Covid-19.
Prof. Iwu further said that his research group had identified and patented a possible treatment for coronavirus as far back as 2015, adding the world must remain ahead of these emergent infections through research.
In his words, “our approach is the use of a network of eminent scientist and leading laboratories to target particular diseases, especially neglected tropical, emergent diseases and orphan diseases such as Ebola virus, Dengue Fever etc.”
In his response, Dr. Onu commended Prof. Iwu for his discovery and said that it was a welcome development, adding no single Nigerian life should be lost to the Covid-19. He also praised the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Health since the outbreak of the first case of the Covid-19 in Nigeria.
He added that Nigerians are now more assured and encouraged with the fast recovery of the index patient.
Dr. Onu further told Prof. Iwu that the Ministry has set up a Committee under the aegis of the Nigerian Academy of Sciences to look into cases of vaccine or cure for the dreaded Covid-19 and Lassa fever.
He therefore advised Prof. Iwu to make available his research findings to the Committee for verification.
Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu further said that for Nigeria to gain its pride of place among the comity of nations, she must contribute to finding solutions to challenges affecting the global community.
Dr. Onu, said the country cannot afford to lag behind, especially as the most populous black nation on earth. Nigeria, he added, must contribute to finding cure to global diseases. He appealed to the Nigerian Academy of Sciences, to help the nation in its fight against prevailing and not-yet discovered diseases.
Dr. Onu assured the Federal Ministry of Health of continuous support and cooperation of his Ministry in helping to combat further emergence of communicable diseases.
He reiterated the commitment of the Ministry to reward scientist, who develop vaccines or cure for Covid-19 and lassa fever.
The Minister of state for Health, Sen. Adeleke Mamora thanked Prof. Iwu for coming up with his discovery, adding that Nigeria can only develop through the efforts of its citizens. He added that the best time for war is now and Nigeria must be well prepared.
He emphasized the need for Nigeria to prepare for endemic diseases in times of normalcy. He urged Nigerians to guard against indiscriminate use of drugs to fight prevalent diseases.
Dr. Mamora said from the grapevine some Nigerians have started stockpiling Chloroquine Phosphate as an antidote to Covid-19 and warned against indiscriminate use of drugs to fight diseases without proper prescription.
He said his Ministry will continue to collaborate with that of Science and Technology.