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Nigerian gov should develop 5-year COVID-19 research agenda — Experts

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Ibrahim Ramalan
Ibrahim Ramalan is a graduate of Mass Communications from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria. With nearly a decade-long, active journalism practice, Mr Ramalan has been able to rise from a cub reporter to the exalted position of an editor; first as Arts Editor with the Blueprint Newspapers before resigning in 2019; second and presently as an Associate Editor of the Daily Nigerian online newspaper. He can be reached via [email protected], or www.facebook.com/ibrahim.ramalana, or @McRamalan on Twitter.
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Experts have advised the Nigerian government to develop a COVID-19 research agenda with a view to identify priorities and infrastructures to fight the pandemic in the country.

This is contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the 6th National Economic Dialogue of the Business to Business Nigeria, B2B Nigeria, hosted by Mustapha Popoola on Saturday, February 20.

According to the experts, it is necessary to identify human and material resources across the country for the implementation of the Agenda using the Triple Helix Model.

DAILY NIGERIAN reports that the Triple Helix Model of Innovation refers to a set of interactions between academia, the industry and the government for fostering economic and social developments within a nation.

To this end, the experts said the model has the potential to fast-track both the vaccine and drug development, improve healthcare delivery beyond the pandemic and enhance the national preparedness for future emerging disease using R&D as an enabler.

They said: “Solutions for African healthcare challenges should come from Africans/Africa institutions that have the willingness and capacity to engage vigorously with relevant issues using the instrumentality of Research and Development by leveraging the Triple Helix Model.

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“Nigeria and indeed Africa have so far escaped maximum devastation during the first and second waves of the pandemic not on the basis of effective response but by yet to be explained genetic and environmental advantages which required the Triple Helix led R&D,” they added.

The experts advised the Federal Government of Nigeria and state governments to adopt, domesticate and mainstream Triple Helix Model for retooling the national Covid-19 response for a quicker and faster result.

The experts added that the Presidential Task Force, PTF, should also be reflective of this model for enhanced performance.

The communique noted that during the conference a goodwill message from the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Suleiman Bogoro, was delivered by Mr Popoola.

The CEO of Nigeria Economic Summit Group, Laoye Jaiyeola gave the first technical presentation addressing the socio-economic situation in Nigeria and the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr jaiyeola stated that Nigeria’s reliance on primary commodity exports especially crude oil exposes the economy to external shocks and COVID-19 has undoubtedly exposed the inherent weaknesses in the economic structure of the Nigeria state and indeed Nigerians.

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He noted that the COVID-19 crisis has presented opportunities to reshape the collaboration between government, academia and business and that there is need to foster collaborations for an all-inclusive national response.

The Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Obi Peter-Adigwe made his presentation on fast tracking COVID-19 drug development in Nigeria using Triple Helix Model and the adoption of the Medicines’ Security Concept.

Mr Peter-Adigwe also recommended the investigation into novel formulations and other parameters as a strategic approach going forward.

The Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria centered his topic on Case Study of FRIN’s C-tone- An indigenous drug developed by FRIN that is very effective against many COVID-19 symptoms.

He also discussed the FRIN’s Research Interventions on Covid-19 Pandemic and the benefits of their herbal and organic products.

The Provost of the College of Medicine, Usman Dan Fodio Teaching Hospital, Sokoto, Shuaib Bello detailed the status report on candidate therapeutics development for COVID-19 in Nigeria, the R&D Dilemma over a Magic bullet in the dark, Vaccines development and other allied matters.

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Mr Bello aslo discussed the drug screening of over 7,000 candidate therapeutics selected from the global drug bank using the Schrodinger industrial grade software newly acquired.

The Chief Executive Officer of Aspire Coronation Trust, ACT, Foundation, Osayi Alile, explained the various interventions of CACOVID especially in the areas of palliative provision and vaccine procurements.

Mrs Alile acknowledged that much has not been done by CACOVID on research, but she advocated for the submission of fundable research proposals for considerations by the organization.

The President and Chief Executive Officer of Bayview Clinics, Illinois, USA, Linus Anukwu discussed the COVID-19 impact on US citizens regarding morbidity and Mortality.

Mr Anukwu attributed some of the devastating effects of COVID-19 to the failure of the immediate past government to activate the Triple Helix as a strategic tool to combat the pandemic.

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