Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says that Nigeria will only see the end to the coronavirus pandemic when a vaccine has been found.
Until then, the health authority said, Nigerians will have to learn to live with the virus
NCDC Director-General Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu said this at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
According to him, the primary focus must be for the country to try to have access to “what we need to tackle this pandemic.”
Ihekweazu reiterated that no country can fight this pandemic alone.
“I want to focus a little bit today on Nigeria’s response in the global context over the last few days. There have been a lot of very emotional… statements about looking inwards, and there’s nothing more important that we should do than look inwards, but we must also remember that this is not a Nigerian outbreak, it’s a global outbreak and we have to engage globally. That global engagement starts from science and understanding the factors driving this outbreak in Nigeria and globally,” the NCDC DG said,
“…Now, why is all of this important? Why do we need the science? And why do we need to engage globally? You know the end of this outbreak will come when we get a vaccine, but getting a vaccine doesn’t mean inevitably that we will have access to it.
“We have had a vaccine to human papillomavirus for the last 10 years. But because this vaccine costs about $50 per shot, we don’t have access to it in Nigeria. So we have to engage globally to insist on equitable access to these vaccines when they are developed. We will not do that by looking inwards. We’ll do it by engaging globally by making the case for access to these vaccines. We must engage globally to have more access to the diagnostics that is one of our biggest bottlenecks now.
“Why don’t we have access? Because the market for diagnosis is stood in such a way that access is a big problem for us down here.
“We must fight to have more access to therapeutics, to medical countermeasures and to everything we need to fight this disease way into the future. This is why we need to engage globally in a lot of these things. So as we look inwards we must also look outwards, no country can solve this problem on its own. We have to work with others on the science of global health politics. We need to come together with the global health community and we can only get out of this if we know and believe because we can only be stronger together.”
PTF National Coordinator Dr Sani Aliyu, on his part, said the national response to COVID-19 is driven by science.
“What we have in the PTF will be insufficient to support all research efforts,” he said.
The coordinator also debunked misinformation that Nigerians, and Africans in general, are immune from the novel coronavirus and cannot be infected by it.
He stated that neither hot nor cold weather were factors in the transmission of COVID-19.
He also warned that bleach is poisonous, saying “it could kill and is not a cure for COVID-19.”
Aliyu stressed that “COVID-19 is not a biological weapon for the government to generate money. Africans are getting the virus and we are not immune to the virus.”