Stop Misinformation about COVID-19 Vaccines, FG Tells Monarchs

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NIPRD’s immune booster ready for clinical trials NAFDAC lists drug for general use

Olawale Ajimotokan and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The federal government yesterday enlisted the support of traditional rulers to help correct the misinformation being churned out about COVID-19 vaccines.

This is coming as the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) has said that it is in the process of carrying out clinical studies on the efficacy of a drug regiment known as Niprimune for the treatment of COVID-19.

The government also said it would want to be on the same page with traditional and religious leaders so that programmes which benefit the people could run smoothly.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha and Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, gave the charge during the sensitisation programme on COVID – 19 vaccine for Muslim scholars and Imams in Nigeria, organised by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA).

Federal government’s plea came barely 24 hours after the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar said that the administration of COVID – 19 vaccine should not be by force

Mustapha said: “I believe that we cannot force people to take vaccine. There are myths, people talk of conspiracy theory. The vaccine is meant to kill us; there are so many videos circulating, very negative videos… “The vaccines are free; we are not paying for the vaccine, it is your choice to take the vaccine,” he said.

Mustapha told traditional and religious leaders to change the negative psyche in their subjects.

He said, “A lot of misinformation about COVID – 19 is currently being circulated through various mass and traditional channels. Traditional leaders, who are custodians of the people’s culture and values, must be very discerning to guide our people aright. Please endeavour to verify any information that you cannot link to any credible source.

“This virus is no respecter of persons. It has affected every group of persons in our society, including the traditional institution. This is why we must come together as one people with one voice to use our influence to promote both the non-pharmaceutical preventive measures and vaccination.

“Traditional rulers are highly reverend in our society; it is important that we leverage on this divine influence to instill in our people the sense of taking responsibility for themselves and their loved ones by wearing facemasks, observing hand hygiene, physical distancing avoiding large gatherings and unnecessary travels.”

On his part Ehanire said that federal government recognised the effort of traditional institutions towards stopping the community spread of COVID – 19.

“I believe it has also not been easy for traditional leaders to explain things and provide comfort to the people in these trying times, when, despite many trials, there is yet no known cure and no sure end to the disease.

“Your Eminence, Your Highnesses, we know that as precious as these vaccines are, there are voices already expressing doubt about it, even before they arrive. Scientists around the world have calculated that, for a country to be free of COVID – 19, 70 per cent of its population must be vaccinated.

“Therefore, all countries in Europe and America are rushing the vaccination programmes to meet this target. We too must meet 70 per cent to save Nigeria from COVID – 19. But with doubting voices already working against the current, the Ministry of Health has concerns about getting its job done, hence this meeting to explain the nature of the vaccine to our royal fathers,” he said.

Meanwhile, NIPRD has said that it is in the process of carrying out clinical studies on the efficacy of a drug regiment known as Niprimune for the treatment of the pandemic.

Director General of NIPRD, Dr. Obi Adigwe who disclosed this yesterday during a facility tour by the Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, said that the institute has secured listing by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) for safe consumption of Niprimune.

He said that NIPRD had leveraged on its discovery of the world-class Vito medicine, which is currently at phase two clinical trials to begin a process re-purposing Niprimune as drug for treating covid-19.

Adigwe who personally opened a pack of the drug and took a tablet in full glare of the cameras, said: “A few hours ago, NAFDAC, after undertaking a rigorous test to ascertain and verify the safety of this product has now given this particular product a listing number. What this means is that I can now legally open this drug pack and take a tablet in your presence”.

Speaking further on the latest breakthrough by the institute, Adigwe said that the management was highly elated on the attainment of the feat.

Described as a well-tested immune booster, Adigwe said Niprimune is also effective in the treatment of other infectious diseases.