The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has revealed that the trial vaccine for the COVID-19 its organization sponsored is now ready for its clinical trial by end of this year, specifically by November. The project the commission said was a research grant tagged Accelerated Development of COVID-19 Vaccines Using Innovative Technological Approach’ is a collaborative effort involving cluster researchers from five different institutions to consolidate problem-solving research and promote innovation in Nigeria.
TETFund awarded a total of N1.250 billion to about four research groups one of which is a vaccine-producing cluster, which took N450 million out of the money.
The vaccine production fellows were made up of researchers from the Veterinary Research Institute Vom, Usman Danfodio University Sokoto, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Jos, Nigerian Institutional of Medical Research Lagos, and National Research Institute for Chemical Technology, Zaria.
Briefing the Executive Secretary of the TETFund, Arc Sonny Echono, the lead expert, Prof. Lawal Usman Bilbis, the Vice Chancellor of Danfodio University informed the boss of their progress so far, saying it was able to yield a result.
Mr. Bilbis recalled how COVID-19 throw the whole world into a pandemonium where the country was only saved by the grace of God as the country was not prepared for such eventuality.
The Vice-chancellor said, “TETFund believed in us and supported us to get to where we are now. That is why we have come to give a firsthand report on the progress made so far”.
In a presentation by Dr. Bashir Muhammad Bello of Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto admitted that it was high time for African intellect to put heads together and forge in seeking its own solution to problems facing its race in the League of Nations.
He revealed currently, the African continent was importing about 99% of its healthcare needs and vaccines which he said does not speak well of the continent after running university research centers for more than four decades.
Dr. Bashir explained, “We graciously got the support of TETFund not only in COVID-19 but also in Lassa Fever and other infectious diseases, because whether we like it or not, diseases will continue to emerge and re-emerge. They don’t have international boundaries and that is why they are called a pandemic.”
He added that it was the time it downed on them that they really needed to sit up and face the reality, noting that even some of those involved in the production line abroad are Nigerians, that was what lead to their formation of consortium and graciously, TETFund released about N225 million for the group for its first trial.
He disclosed that the team went to work by ensuring that all factors that may lead to the re-emergence of the covid-19 variant were mitigated.
Meanwhile, Mr. Echono applauded their effort for taking the bull by the horn to develop the first indigenous vaccine in recent times and told them that the country was proud of them.
He informed them that it was not only about them but about the country and the African continent at large, assuring them that the TETFund would always be available to support initiatives of such kind that will put Nigerian researchers on the global map.