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NMA, NIPRD caution against fake news in COVID-19 fight

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Medical experts have cautioned against peddling of fake news in the fight to contain COVID-19, insisting that fake news could derail efforts to terminate the pandemic.

There were speculations over death of a United Kingdom (UK) COVID-19 vaccine volunteer, Dr. Elisa Granato, which later turned out to be false. The Guardian of UK as had reported that Granato was doing well before she tweeted that “Nothing like waking up to a fake article on your death…. I’m doing fine everyone.”

Reacting to the development, President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Francis Adedayo Faduyile, said, “We may not understand the motive beyond the fact that some mischief-makers may deliberately be out to cause undue panic or discredit ongoing efforts at finding a vaccine.

“But the good thing is that such fake news will not detract from ongoing efforts to find a vaccine, as there are several trials currently in the United States (US), UK and Europe.”

Faduyile, however, said the fact that some people use social media to propagate selfish and ulterior motives and in some instances, incite people, does not in any way remove from the value of social media.

Also, former Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Pharmaceutical Research (NIPRD), professor of Pharmacology and Chair of Product Research and Development for Africa, Charles Obadiah Wambebe, said it was disheartening to read so much fake news during this pandemic.

“Firstly, let me affirm that no volunteer on the coronavirus vaccine trial has died. They are all doing well so far. The motive for such fake news is unclear to me.

“The implication is that the social media platforms should endeavour to conduct background checks before publishing any news. Such fake news has no influence on scientists who are engaged in research and development of safe and effective vaccine as well as therapeutic agents,” he added.

Also, the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has put in place an expedited registration pathway to allow granting of Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) for masks and Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).

Director General of NAFDAC, Professor Mojisola Christiana Adeyeye, in a statement, said the agency has the mandate to enlighten members of the public on the products needed for effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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