FG Working To Ease Burden Associated With COVID-19 Protocols – Dabiri-Erewa
A Nigerian-American researcher and medical doctor, Onyema Ogbuagu, has stressed the need for African leaders to position themselves to address the health challenges affecting the continent.
Ogbuagu, an Associate Professor of Medicine and Head Researcher on Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine trial at Yale University, USA said the starting point should include, developing and supporting scientists, building research infrastructure and creating enabling environments.
He gave this advice at a virtual lecture series on the topic, ‘COVID-19: Vaccine, Hesitancy, Myths and Reality’, organised by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) in partnership with Ngex.
Ogbuagu who was one of the researchers who developed the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine says it “will be the final nail in the coffin” for the virus that has killed over 1.6 million people worldwide.
He also dismissed concerns that the vaccine would alter deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).
“I think that issue of vaccine hesitancy is not new. It’s been an issue that has played us for a long time. In fact, I think the World Health Organisation (WHO) at some point had listed vaccine hesitancy as one of the greatest threats to global health,” he said.
“I think if we just think about historically the role that vaccine has played, with either eradicating diseases, near eradicating diseases and even the year-to-year advantages, there have always been individuals that have been concerned about what vaccines are and there are a lot of misconceptions around the harms or the potential harms vaccine caused.
“Specifically, for COVID-19 vaccines, I think that one of the concerns has been about the accelerated process or timelines. I want to flag vaccine hesitancy as a serious threat for us. The punchline I would say is that thinking about COVID-19, vaccine would be one of the approaches that really hosts the greatest promise.
“You can wear a mask and maintain social distance; we know how difficult it is to maintain some of that for a long period of time and those don’t really get rid of the disease itself. I think that the vaccine will be the final nail in the coffin for COVID-19. So, we have a solution to the problem; let’s not introduce problem to the solution.
Asked if the vaccine would be taken by pregnant women, the medical doctor said the clinical trial did not include them, but maintained that the vaccine does not cause infertility.
“We did not include pregnant women. We did not include breastfeeding women. We did not include them in this study. We conducted them on non-pregnant women and we were assured of safety,” Ogbuagu said.
The Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, in her opening remarks, assured travelling Nigerian citizens that the Federal Government is working round the clock to ease the burden associated with the COVID-19 pandemic protocols for its travelling Diasporans.
She said that with vaccines undergoing clinical trials, travelling Diasporans would soon be relieved with difficulties encountered during screening process once the potency of the vaccines are confirmed.
The NIDCOM boss said the usage of such vaccines will bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the stress travellers go through moving from one country to another in ascertaining their status.
Dabiri-Erewa explained that the purpose of the webinar is to let Nigerians in the Diaspora know about the efforts of the Federal Government in mitigating the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic especially on her Diasporans.
She reassured all Nigerians living abroad of the readiness of the Federal government to protect the lives of its citizenry irrespective of their status, religion and ethnic background.