Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has welcomed efforts by a team of Nigerian professors and scientists investigating the effectiveness of, and roles that Ivermectin drug can play in the treatment of COVID-19.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, disclosed this on Tuesday in a statement titled, ‘Osinbajo welcomes COVID-19 research group’s report on likely prevention and treatment drug’.
According to Akande, the team, which has Nigerian scholars at home and abroad as members, has submitted report on the usefulness of the drug to the World Health Organisation which has already appointed a peer review expert from the United Kingdom.
He said Osinbajo was briefed on Monday on the report by a team of scientists led by the principal investigator Prof Femi Babalola; and the Chief Medical Director of Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Prof Chris Bode.
The presidential aide quoted Osinbajo as expressing excitement that Nigeria and Nigerians “are at the cutting edge of scientific research into the COVID-19 treatment.”
He further quoted the Vice President as saying, “We have an opportunity here and I am so fascinated to hear this drug has been used in the treatment of River Blindness in this country.”
While commending the efforts of the team, Osinbajo added that with the report, Nigeria is at an advantage both in knowledge and availability of the drug, especially since Ivermectin has been found useful not only in the treatment of COVID-19, but also as a prophylactic medication.
He disclosed that the Federal Government will explore further ways to support the research for the benefit of Nigerians and humanity generally, while also advancing the effective funding of scientific research in the country.
Members of the group named IVERCOVID Research Group, according to the statement are Babalola; Bode; the Chairman of the Medical Advisory Council at LUTH, Prof Lanre Adeyemo; a US-based clinical pharmacologist, Prof Adesuyi Ajayi; two project virologists: Prof. S.A Omilabu and Dr. Olumuyiwa Salu; and also the Project Coordinator, Dr. Felix Alakaloko.
The statement read, “The report is titled, ‘A randomised controlled trial for the repurposing of Ivermectin in the management of COVID-19,’ and highlights are discussed below:
“The research, carried out in the Lagos University Teaching Hospital was undertaken following the report of a 5,000-fold reduction in viral load by Australian workers with in-vitro use of Ivermectin on COVID-19 in culture.
“The PI has worked extensively with Ivermectin on the Onchocerciasis-River Blindness control programme, through which many Nigerians have used Ivermectin.”
According to the statement, the study revealed that the mechanism of action of Ivermectin, include “Inhibiting viral entry into cells nucleus; and “Direct suppression of viral RNA load of SARS CoV 2,” among others.
The study indicated that Clinical trials of Ivermectin have been carried out in at least 21 countries worldwide, including Nigeria.
It referenced the “Meta-analysis of clinical trials of Ivermectin to treat COVID-19 infection” by Dr. Andrew Hill, Department of Pharmacology, University of Liverpool, UK.
Highlighting the practical applications, the Study proposed that “Ivermectin should be considered for adoption into the uniform treatment guidelines of COVID- 19 in Nigeria,” noting the “potential use of ivermectin as prophylaxis Pending the rollout of vaccination programs or alongside it.”
However, the Study emphasized that Ivermectin “is not meant to replace other COVID-19 measures such as social distancing, face masking and hygiene, or vaccinations,” adding that, “It is possibly an additional tool which can be deployed to fight the pandemic.”
The group stated that it has forwarded a report of its findings to NAFDAC.