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‘Why Nigeria is not considered research location for COVID-19 vaccines’

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, Abuja
28 June 2020   |   4:12 am
The Executive Director and Co-founder, Health Africa, Adam Thompson, has said Nigeria has not been considered a research location for COVID-19...

• EHA Opens COVID-19 Treatment Centre In FCT 
The Executive Director and Co-founder, Health Africa, Adam Thompson, has said Nigeria has not been considered a research location for COVID-19, due to challenges of infrastructure, huge financial requirements and bureaucratic issues, among others. 

He noted that if Nigeria becomes a trial site for COVID-19, it would have priority access to some vaccines. Otherwise, it will be at the back of the line, in terms of vaccine manufacturing. 

Briefing journalists on the planned opening of a private COVID-19 Treatment Centre by EHA in Abuja, Thompson said the body had been advocating that Nigeria be considered a research location, although it requires a lot of financing and government support to make it happen. 

He said: “We have a research team that supports our clinic. We have been doing research for a long time and our parent organisation, eHealth Africa, helped to run the Ebola vaccine trial in Sierra Leone in 2015… Getting the resources together seems very difficult, because the trials are very expensive and requires having special facilities. We are still trying to reach out to those we know to see if that is an option.”

He explained that to conduct a random clinical trial in any country, especially for a vaccine that would be used globally, there is need for Contract Research Organisations’ (CROs) presence in such country, but Nigeria does not have any. 

Thompson stressed the need for Nigeria to increase testing capacity, monitor mask wearing, physical distancing, avoiding mass gathering and enforcing other safety measures to enable it flatten the curve. 

He explained that the decision to open the treatment centre was informed by need to bridge the gap in COVID-19 treatment in the country, and that the organisation has secured donor funding to conduct tests. So, when FCT refers patients to the clinic, the test would be free. 

According to him, the 11-bed premium isolation and treatment facility will provide treatment for patients with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 to meet a critical need for Nigeria’s capital city, which currently has the second-highest number of active COVID-19 cases in the nation. 

He said: “One of the challenges with COVID-19 is patients’ inability to get proper treatment… The isolation and treatment centre was designed as a best practice model that offers continuous vital signs monitoring, respiratory support, and medication administration under the supervision of a world-class medical team… With oxygen therapy, you can prevent patients suffering from COVID-19 from using ventilator…”

The Chief Medical Officer of EHA Clinics, Dr. Antonia Hananiya said: “We provide oxygen therapy for our patients, and if they report early enough, they can be managed with oxygen therapy and might not need a ventilator…”