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Nigerian Scientists Identify Possible COVID-19 Treatment Drug, Says Osinbajo

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(FILE) A health worker wearing a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suit tests a swab sample for COVID-19 at a primary health centre on September 3, 2020. NOAH SEELAM / AFP

A team of Nigerian professors and scientists, named IVERCOVID Research Group, has investigated the effectiveness and roles that the Ivermectin drug can play in the treatment of coronavirus.

This was revealed in a statement on Tuesday by Mr Laolu Akande, the media aide to the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

He noted that the team, which comprised Nigerian scholars at home and abroad, has also submitted its report on the usefulness of the drug to the World Health Organisation (WHO) which has already appointed a Peer Review expert from the United Kingdom.

Akande disclosed that the health experts briefed Professor Osinbajo who welcomed the efforts by the team on Monday.

The group is led by a Principal Investigator, Professor Femi Babalola, and the Chief Medical Director of Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Professor Chris Bode.

Its members are Chairman of the Medical Advisory Council at LUTH, Professor Lanre Adeyemo; a United State-based clinical pharmacologist, Professor Adesuyi Ajayi; two project virologists – Professor S.A Omilabu and Dr Olumuyiwa Salu; and the Project Coordinator, Dr Felix Alakaloko.

FINDINGS

In its findings, the research revealed that the mechanism of action of Ivermectin includes “inhibiting viral entry into cells’ nucleus”; and “direct suppression of viral RNA load of SARS CoV 2,” among others.

Ivermectin is orally absorbed with higher absorption as a solution better than tablets, and “The Mean Residence Time” (MRT) is 3.4 days. This informs the suggested frequency of dosing, i.e. twice a week.

The research’s Null hypothesis noted that: “Safe doses of Ivermectin are not useful in the treatment of patients with virology proven COVD-19 disease, does not lower viral load, and does not shorten time to negativity, neither does it cause improvement in clinical parameters when compared to Lopinavir/Ritonavir/Placebo.”

But its Alternative Hypothesis revealed that “Safe doses of Ivermectin are useful in the treatment of patients with virology proven COVID-19 disease, lowering the viral load, shortening time to negativity, and causing improvement in clinical parameters when compared with Lopinavir/Ritonavir/Placebo.”

RESULTS

In its results so far, the study noted that the randomisation was effective based on the distribution of age, sex, and some clinical presentation at baselines such as cough and fever.

The overall results showed that the “Days-To-Negative (DTN) reduced by 3.8 days overall. While a few patients are negative by day two, 50 per cent are negative by day 5.”

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 emphasised 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, titled “A randomised controlled trial for the repurposing of Ivermectin in the management of COVID-19,” to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

A file photo of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

In his remarks, the vice president was excited that Nigeria and Nigerians were at the cutting edge of scientific research into the COVID-19 treatment.

“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,” he was quoted as saying.

Professor Osinbajo believes 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 preventive medication.

He stated that the Federal Government would further explore 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.


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