By Sola Ogundipe
The federal government has been tasked to look inwards and exploit available expertise and collaborations towards developing indigenous solutions and producing effective products to tackle the country’s numerous health challenges.
Scientists who made the call at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, NIMR, Lagos, during an evaluation presentation of the ABUAD Herbal Virucidine Liquid developed by Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, for management of COVID-19, said Nigeria’s potential to excel in medical research was largely untapped.
In the views of the Director General of NIMR, Prof Babatunde Salako, an independent evaluation of the safety and efficacy of the herbal mixture which has been approved by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration & Control, NAFDAC, as a herbal immune booster and antioxidant, showed that it has potential to be registered as a treatment for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) .
Salako said, “We want to make people aware of the success that we have made, especially as the drug that we are looking at is home grown. So it is like the Nigerian homegrown solution for a disease that has ravaged the world.
“Even though we are at a preliminary stage, our findings show that this is very promising and what we need to do is to move on to the next stage which is to conduct the same study in larger number of people, and it is afterwards that the regulatory agency will be confident to register it as a treatment for COVID-19.
“For now we see it as a promising drug. What we can say today is that we have a herbal therapy that is looking promising and requires further tests. The phase 1 and early phase 2 trials were done here. What we have been doing in Nigeria is the phase 3 trials because we haven’t been developing our own drugs in past years. “
In a presentation of the Proof-of-Concept clinical trial of the ABUAD herbal liquid, the Deputy Director of Research, NIMR, Dr Agatha David, said out of 72 participants screened for the trials, 44 enrolled, and 43 (97.7 percent) of the enrolled participants completed the study.
“The main symptoms at enrolment were cough (65.0 percent), fever (55.8 percent), and sore throat (46.5 percent). A higher proportion of participants in the Virucidine arm were SARS-CoV-2 negative by Day 3 (61.5 percent and by Day 7 92.3 percent were negative.
“All participants were SARS-CoV-2 negative by Day 14. A significantly higher proportion of participants on Virucidine were also symptom free by Day 7 compared to the control group (88.5 percent versus 52.9 percent).
” The findings also revealed that the ABUAD Virucidine Liquid was well tolerated and there were no serious adverse events, clinical deterioration or death through the 28 days of follow-up,” David noted.
On his part, a member of the ABUAD research team that developed the Virucidine Liquid, Prof Idowu Omotuyi, said Nigeria needed to be proactive and not be an onlooker in the area of addressing health challenges, but rather contribute actively to medical research.
“While the world is looking for drug that could help with COVID-19, ABUAD, a major university in Nigeria has developed something for COVID-19. And so it was presented to a third party, which is NIMR to test, validate and share the findings with us.
“Nigerians should note that COVID-19 is not going anywhere, so ABUAD Virucidine is one of the therapeutic options for COVID-19. The way Virucidine works is to block SARS-CoV-2 from assessing the tube which is your body.
Omotuyi, who is a professor of Therapeutics and Pharmacology, said the ABUAD Virucidine Liquid could be safely taken by anyone.
“Those who have been vaccinated can also take it for protection from any kind of sudden illness. Virucidine is just a tip of what can come out of ABUAD, this is telling the possibility and the capacity available and the federal government can come and partner with ABUAD for development in areas of indigenous solution.”