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Nigeria Closer To Finding Ebola Cure

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Progress is being made in the search for a reliable treatment for the Ebola Virus Disease, the Treatment and Research Group (TRG) on Ebola said on Wednesday.

According to Co-Chairman of the group, Prof. Innocent Ujah, the committee had recommended to the Federal Government an experimental drug known as T705, for use to treat the disease. According to him, the committee had also advised the government to approve the commencement of clinical trials on some of the experimental vaccines.

“We have virtually looked at the experimental drugs and vaccines; it is only one that we have recommended to the Federal Government and that is T705.

“And then we have the experimental vaccines – the Chinese type and then the Canadian type and then of course there is the one that was brought in by CDC.

“We have recommended to government that we need to commence clinical trials on any one of them,” he said.

Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu had inaugurated the Treatment Research Group(TRG) for Ebola Virus Disease(EVD) in the country, earlier in the year, as the virus outbreak hit Nigeria. Although the country has been declare Ebola-free by the World Health Organisation, authorities agree that in as much as the virus exists in any part of the world, no country is safe.

Ujah therefore promised that the country would follow a road map designed by the group of experts in its search for the prevention or cure of the disease.

“We have about 35 of those who claim they can either cure or prevent Ebola; and what we are doing now is cataloging those claims and then later verify; it is not something that we can rush into otherwise we will have problems.

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“We don’t want a situation where any of the claimants will be accusing us of being bias, so when we do that we go to the next level.

“So our road map is to, using the clinical trials, study the experimental drugs and vaccines that are available and we do this in partnership with other countries.

“The truth is that once you are doing a clinical trial, it takes a long time; the issue is that you go through the protocol; you must establish the protocol otherwise tomorrow we will have legal issues,” he said.

Ujah dismissed the insinuations that Nigeria lacked the capacity to handle research on Ebola treatment or prevention, saying that the country was blessed with abundance of talents in the sector. He however decried government’s poor commitment to research, noting that Nigerian scientists were committed to research.

“It is very expensive to undertake research, research requires a lot of investment in terms of money, material and man, you have to train people, you have to have the material but there is no serious commitment to research in Nigeria that is the truth.

“And the answer I give to those who say what is the breakthrough in Nigeria, I say what is your investment in Nigeria, because you must invest to take something from it but I am happy that the Federal Government is considering reserving some fund for health research.

“The implication is that even though we have the manpower we are not maximally utilise the manpower that we have, now Ebola has shown us that we have to look inward,” he said.