Invest in research, vaccine production to contain epidemics, experts advise African governments
To sustainably contain COVID-19 and other epidemics, medical experts have urged African governments to improve funding for research and production of local vaccines.
They said the new IHU variant of the virus would compound the confusion, distress and discomfort the world has suffered so far.
The professionals, however, said the hope brought by vaccination is beginning to fade with the mutation of the disease.
A consultant family health physician, Dr. Ejike Ude, told The Guardian: “It is an open secret that Nigerians, and Africans in general, do not trust the Western-made vaccines. There is widespread propaganda surrounding the vaccine and this obviously affects vaccine uptake among our people.
“It is expected that the Nigerian government and others in Africa should finance the research and production of locally-researched vaccines. With this, our people will trust our vaccines and the uptake will increase obviously.”
Reacting to the emerging variants of COVID-19, Ude, who is a Nigerian-trained physician based in Botswana, noted that the implications transcend political, economic and social circles.
“At a point in 2020, the world economies were shut down. Companies and organisations folded and unemployment skyrocketed. The political implication was very palpable. Finally, our usual social networking and interactions were truncated,” he submitted.
Ude said, from the public health point of view, the world would see the end of the pandemic when 75 per cent of the eligible persons are fully vaccinated.
“This is called herd immunity on a defined population. These 75 per cent or more of the vaccinated literally confer immunity to those who are not vaccinated. To achieve this globally, and in the shortest possible time, it requires country/country and international collaborations. There should be a more transparent and equitable distribution of vaccines. If the international community should understand that the world is a global village where international travels take place on a constant basis, there should not be discrimination in vaccine distribution and use. A variety discovered a few days ago is already detected in Cameroun,” he added.
A consultant pharmacist and Medical Director, Merit Healthcare Limited, Dr. Lolu Ojo, stated that the world was yet to fully understand the complexity of the virus and the mutants.
“This means an extension of the hardship that the restrictions and downturn in the economy have imposed us,” he said.
On when the world will see an end to the pandemic, Ojo said: “No one can say. It is all about speculations.”