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COVID-19: The unvarnished truth 

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At the height of its first incarnation, about July last year when the coronavirus was ravaging the whole world with deaths and its stringent protocols, I had remarked, in one of my columns, that it was highly risky to take ill during the period. Every symptom, I said, was likely to be mistaken for COVID-19 infection.

I added that “this strange disease has appropriated the symptoms of all known diseases prevalent before COVID-19 civilization: malaria, common colds, cough, aches and pains. The story was told of a woman who did not survive a caesarian operation but her death was recorded as COVID-19 case.”

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This second wave, accurately predicted by WHO with gratuitous glee, has come with all kinds of variants that mutate at will like the chameleon changing colour in harmony with its environment. What is worse, this Corona god has become more vicious and apparently more difficult to appease. Like its first incarnation, COVID-19, in its second coming, has retained all its symptoms and its protocols.

We entered the New Year only to be greeted by the frightening morbid statistics of mortality. The harvest of death did not exclude the high and the mighty of society. Even the death of those persons who were known to be battling with old age ailments was put down to COVID-19, thus fueling the raging conspiracy theories about the non-existence of COVID-19. Or the dubious efficacy of the vaccines.

Thanks to inappropriate communication strategy, today, the only death not likely to be credited to COVID-19 must be the one inflicted by killer herdsmen or the ubiquitous armed bandits and the marauding kidnappers who kill at will even after they had collected ransom. Or those unfortunate travellers, who perish in road crashes.

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Despite all the conspiracy theories, assisted oftentimes by officialdom, the truth remains that COVID-19 is real and it is rampant. In the absence of readily available vaccines and immediate cure, we must all surrender to its protocols. Those who still doubt the existence of COVID-19 or prefer to leave blissfully in denial must read what I regard as the unvarnished truth as told below by Professor Ogbonnaya Ogbu of Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki:

It is really very unfortunate that after COVID-19 pandemic has terrorised the world for the past 14 months, many people across the globe still believe that it is not real but scam. Before I go on to talk about this critical subject matter, let me introduce myself. My name is Prof Ogbonnaya Ogbu, I have been working with viruses since 1983 my third year at the University. It eventually became my area of specialization up to PhD and eventually Professor of virology. As a result, I know viruses, how they behave in and out of living organisms, I can also predict them, manage them and strategise on how to confront them any time they come for the attack. The reason being that I have the background and competence to contribute to viruses and they're negative as well as positive activities. This information is to buttress and concur with numerous write-ups and opinions on the subject matter  “The reality of COVID-19”.

COVID-19 is real. Many prominent and less prominent persons, leaders, entrepreneurs, scientists, administrators, professionals, academicians, medical personnel to mention a few have died due to the current pandemic caused by COVID- 19 virus. It does not respect the position, economic status, race, colour, gender as well as religion. Everybody on planet earth is equal before COVID-19. It does not take a bribe to spare anybody, neither does it require connection or permission to strike. It does not require visa or resident permit to visit or stay in any country. It has all the immunity in the world to kill, steal, maim, destroy and ruin everything directly or indirectly. It can do and undo. Therefore ensure that you take all precautionary measures to protect yourself and others as well as save the world from this invisible enemy called the COVID-19 virus. This can be done by:
Keeping safe to remain/ stay safe.
- Wear a face mask,
- Avoid crowded areas and activities,
- Wash hands regularly with soap under running water
- Maintain a social distance of about two meters in any gathering.
- Use hand sanitizer as often as possible.
If you feel that you have sore throat, cough or stuffy nose, with or without fever, consider to:
- To take your routine malaria drug plus vitamin C twice a day.
- Drink hot ginger tea mixed with garlic in the morning and in the evening.
- Apply steam inhalation for 5 to 10 minutes, morning and evening.

All these should be done during the course of management of malaria in the tropics and flu during winter in temperate regions, which usually last for four days.

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If the symptoms persist after such treatment, then report to the nearest hospital for COVID-19 test. If the test is negative that is great, then you continue with your normal lifestyle without neglecting all the precautionary measures and your diet, which must be balanced with fruits and vegetables.

If God forbid, the test is positive, do not panic. It is treatable and not a death sentence. The doctors at Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (AE - FUTHA) Ebonyi State, Nigeria, can handle it provided you report early. Also doctors in other teaching hospitals across Nigeria and other countries can handle it too.

Furthermore, COVID- 19 is not a scam. It has nothing to do with 5G-Electromagnetic Radiation. Do not be deceived.

Let me also inform you about the new vaccines. There is a saying that prevention is better than cure. I then added that prevention is also cheaper than cure. For viral infections, the prevention, which we accept is better and cheaper than cure is usually done with vaccine prepared against such a virus. The world’s first successful vaccine against smallpox was developed in 1796 by Dr. Edward Jenner. Since then the method he used to develop that vaccine has kept on improving due to advancement in science and technology.

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Vaccines have successfully been used to prevent infectious diseases like smallpox, yellow fever, measles, polio, etc. for many years now. These vaccines took between 8 -10 years to develop due to the available technology then. As a result of this long period it usually takes to develop vaccines, scientists in various laboratories in many countries and companies have been working on various ways to improve and shorten the time used for development and subsequently prepare vaccines.

Yes, I understand the anxiety and concern of people on the development of COVID-19 vaccine vis a vis the short period it took to come out with current vaccines. Remember that emergency situations require/demand immediate actions. This happens to be the case of COVID-19 challenges, which requires immediate action to save the world from the monster.

The countries and companies that were prepared and waiting for a pandemic to occur, employed their already developed new technology, which in this case is mRNA, based to prepare vaccines against COVID-19 virus in less than 12 months. The vaccines have nothing to do with human or animal genes or hereditary materials. None of it will change the way one behaves, looks or act. Also none of the vaccines can cause infertility.

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I am pretty sure that the ministry of health, NAFDAC and some other laboratories have all that it takes to ensure that only safe, effective and validated vaccines are procured for Nigerians. Regulatory agencies in other countries are doing the same. Therefore, if you are 50 years and above, prepare your mind to accept the vaccines for the purpose of immunization.

It is only through vaccination that herd immunity of the nation can be built and increase up to 80%. With that the spread of the virus will reduce drastically and subsequently, life will return to normal. While the vaccination is going on with the imported vaccines, virologists in the country who are capable should be funded to develop indigenous vaccines with local isolates. Also other specialists who can prepare antiviral drug against COVID-19 virus from the abundant bio-resources in Nigeria should be funded. Other countries are funding and given research grants to their scientists for the same purpose. I am very sure that with time, COVID-19 treatment will be like that of malaria.

Prof Ogbu is of Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki.

Email  ogbunio@yahoo.com.

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