The National Universities Commission has revealed that some Nigerian universities are collaborating with their foreign counterparts to develop vaccines for prevention and cure of COVID-19,
This was disclosed during the unveiling of a compendium of ground-breaking contributions of 32 Nigerian universities to the national response to COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Suleiman Ramon-Yusuf, Deputy Executive Secretary of NUC, who launched the document on behalf of the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Professor Abubakar Rasheed, said the National University System was proud of the modest contributions of Nigerian universities in the efforts to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world since December 2019.
He revealed that The Redeemer’s University, Ede, Osun State is working hard in collaboration with the Cambridge University to develop vaccines for prevention and cure of COVID-19.
“The performance of the African Centres of Excellence, particularly the Centre for the Genomics of Infectious Diseases at Redeemer’s University, Ede, in the sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 virus, the collaborative development of vaccines with the Cambridge University and as a pioneer national testing and screening centre have proved that world-class R & D (Research and Development) work is possible in Nigeria,” Ramon-Yusuf said.
Ramon-Yusuf, added that other African Centres of Excellence hosted in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Bayero University Kano, University of Lagos, University of Benin, University of Port-Harcourt, and the University of Jos have also made profound contributions to the fight against the pandemic.
He listed some of the verifiable products of research of the 32 Nigerian universities in the efforts to provide remedy COVID-19 to include sanitisers and dispensing systems, along with handwashing devices, face masks, visors and coverings, thermometers and other temperature sensing or measuring devices and ventilators of all types.
He further disclosed that the ACEs related to herbal and natural products in UNIJOS, ABU, and UNILAG, in addition to other universities engaged in drug research have been tasked to lead the current effort to develop “our natural/herbal remedies.”
He said the compendium encapsulated the various stages of development of research efforts including those that are research in progress, a prototype produced, tested and approved and patented by an approving authority and if already commercialised in some ways.
“NUC usually coordinates a lot of activities in the Nigerian universities and I’m sure some members of the public might have some snippets of some of the contributions of Nigerian universities before now but for us, we take it seriously to ensure that we do have verifiable and authentic records of real activities that are likely to contribute to the concerted efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have here is a compendium through our Strategy and Advisory Committee of verifiable contributions of Nigerian universities largely in the area of research innovation ranging from mechanical ventilators and the likes,” he said.
He noted that claims that could not be verified were not captured in the compendium, saying in most cases the Commission had to demand evidence that the inventions were working.
Ramon-Yusuf noted that despite the fact that members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are on strike, the university community has been alive to its responsibility of finding the solution to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NUC boss said COVID-19 is an emergency and that all patriotic Nigerians including of ASUU have been involved in one or the other to deal with the crisis.
While stressing the commitment of the government towards resolving the ASUU strike, Ramon-Yusuf, however, said he was not in a possession to say when the strike would be called off.
He, however, disclosed that the Commission is currently collating inputs from various universities in the country and their preparation and readiness for the reopening of the institutions.
He said until this was done the universities would not be reopened so as not expose the students to dangers of the pandemic.