Abuja, Dec. 16, 2020 (NAN) Dr Onyema Ogbuagu, a Nigerian-American researcher and medical doctor, has advised African leaders to be proactive in addressing health challenges affecting the continent.
According to Mr Abdur-Rahman Balogun, Head, Media and Public Relations for Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Ogbuagu, an Associate Professor of Medicine and Head Researcher on Pfizer’s () COVID-19 Vaccine trial team at Yale University, USA, gave the advice at a virtual lecture series on Wednesday in Abuja.
Speaking further in a lecture with the topic, ‘COVID-19: Vaccine, Hesitancy, Myths and Reality’, organised by NiDCOM in partnership with Ngex, the associate professor said the starting point should include developing and supporting scientists, building research infrastructure, and creating enabling environments.
Obgaugu, who was one of the researchers who developed the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, said it would be the “final nail in the coffin” for the virus that has killed more than 1.6 million people worldwide.
“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 the problem to the solution,” he said.
He also dismissed concerns that the vaccine would alter deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the molecule that carries genetic instructions in all living things.
“I think that the issue of vaccine hesitancy is not new. It has been an issue that has played with 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.
“There have always been individuals that have been concerned about what vaccines are and there is a lot of misconceptions around the harms or the potential harms vaccines cause.
“Specifically, for COVID-19 vaccines, I think 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, the vaccine would be one of the approaches that really hosts the greatest promise,” he said.
Ogbuagu said that wearing a mask and maintaining social distance does not really get rid of the disease itself.
The researcher attributed the success in the production of the vaccine to teamwork.
“The fact that it is a global pandemic makes it quite significant, so everybody worked together,” he said.
In a remark, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman/CEO, NIDCOM assured travelling Nigerians that the Federal Government was working to ease the burden associated with the COVID-19 pandemic protocols.
She said with vaccines undergoing clinical trials, travelling Diasporans would soon be relieved from difficulties encountered during the screening process.
Dabiri-Erewa said that the usage of such vaccines would bring an end to the pandemic as well as the stress travellers passed through.
The NiDCOM chairman said the webinar was to let Nigerians in the Diaspora know the efforts of the government in mitigating the negative effects of the pandemic, especially among itsDiasporans.
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.
Also speaking, Dr Sani Aliyu, Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, said adequate plans were on to get the vaccines to Nigerians soon.
“There is a lot of work that is currently ongoing on the government side.
“The minister has set up an expert advisory group,” he said.