By Bassey Inyang
The Biotechnology Society of Nigeria (BSN) has announced that it has put in place measures to work with the federal government, through the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19 and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) towards containing the spread of the deadly virus in the country.
The society said that already, its members have established, “A BSN Covid-19 Response Committee” comprising highly competent Nigerian scientists “to help the country’s efforts towards strategically containing the effect of this pandemic in the short and medium term”.
The BSN made its offer to help in the fight against the pandemic known through a press release Monday.
BSN, in the statement signed by Prof. Benjamin Ewa Ubi and Mr. Yarama Ndirpaya, the National President and National Secretary respectively, as well as 10 other members indicated that it have already communicated with the PTF on Covid-19, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the NCDC on the activities they have evolved to support the fight towards containing the spread of the Covid-19.
According to BSN, some of the measures include the mobilisation of its members and their intellectual resources at developing efficacious drugs for the successful treatment of patients that have contracted the Covid-19 as well as working towards the development of a vaccine that can be used in eliminating the virus.
The statement read in part: “As partners in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, BSN has been developing a national response strategy to the crisis to advance different intervention areas where it can contribute in mitigating the resultant disruptions and shocks, as its contribution to safeguarding our country from the deadly novel coronavirus.
“Drawing from insight and experiences of its several professionals in different fields of scientific endeavours, BSN is positioned to contribute to slowing down the transmission of the virus, and its management.
“The society counts on her members with expertise in various fields (e.g. food and agricultural biotechnology, industrial biotechnology, environmental biotechnology, and medical biotechnology; and would harness their talents in supporting national efforts towards containing Covid-19 and mitigate its impact in our country.”
Pointing out the roles the BSN can play effectively in containing the Covid-19 in the country, it said: “Recognising that biotechnological tools and approaches are deployed to achieve robust outcomes in arresting the spread of the virus, and its attendant consequences in the short and medium term, BSN offers itself to play key roles in the following areas: Present qualified members to undertake coordinated and reinforced laboratory testing of Covid-19, starting from simple collection of qPCR analysis.
“Galvanize BSN members to develop alternative testing techniques that will speed up testing of Covid-19 samples. Besides the use of RD testing for Covid-19, key members of BSN are in the process of developing alternative testing kits capable of detecting antigens from Covid-19 samples.
“Those members are willing to support government efforts in synergy with NCDC and other relevant authorities.”
Stressing that members of the BSN were working on possible medicinal remedy to the Covid-19, it said: “Currently, various herbal therapies known to be efficacious against viral infections and symptoms of Covid-19 are being developed (and other herbal remedies have also been identified and proposed for further validation).
“A specific case in point is that of one of our members who has successfully submitted an anti-Covid-19 mixture to the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) for further evaluation following efficacy study of the mixture on different viruses of the respiratory tract and other organisms.”
Continuing the BSN said its members who are molecular biologists are willing to contribute their expertise towards curtailing the Covid-19 pandemic, and that “a team from one of BSN affiliated laboratories in Benin is currently developing and evaluating cost effective PCR diagnostics to circumvent the shortage of functional qPCR machines in the country.”
BSN further disclosed that among other measures, some of its members have begun researches in vaccine development “using various biotechnology and molecular biology techniques to collaborate with all relevant bodies including the private sector towards fast-tracking the development and use of innovations to combat the pandemic”.
It commended the federal government and its agencies for the efforts they have put so far in combating the Covid-19 pandemic, and curbing the spread of its devastating effect on the lives of Nigerians and the nation’s economy.
The members of the BSN also condoled with President Muhammadu Buhari and families of Nigerians who have lost their loved ones to the Covid-19 pandemic.