Nigeria’s economic and socio-political fortunes have been severely affected as a result of the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic which has also led to the deaths of so many people.
But Executive Director of Winner’s Lab Medical Diagnostic Research Institutes, Dr. Jacob Abdullahi, in this interview, said Nigeria should look inward rather than running after other countries to get drugs. Jacob also claimed that his drugs, Winniecure, can help treat COVID-19 and has been submitted to the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) for approval.
The world is ravaged by the Coronavirus pandemic and you claim that your product, Winniecure can help treat the disease. How is that?
Winniecure works as an antiviral agent. It works against different viruses; not only for Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV). It is used to treat Hepatitis B and also, Hepatitis C and we have seen that most viruses, when you use Winniecure, the virus is eliminated from the blood because the mechanism of action of Winnicure is determined to eliminate any foreign particle from the system. It also helps as an antibiotic to work against bacteria because people that have diseases; whether bacteria infection or any kind of infection and the disease refuses to go, that is what we call drug-resistance infection. It is just like somebody who has staphylococcus and has been taking antibiotics for 10 to 15 years and the staphylococcus refuses to go. So, when you administer Winnicure herbal drug in that regard, the person will respond positively. Winniecure does not work like that anti retroviral drugs in which a person would continue to take drug for a life time. It is just for a period of time that is why we need to understand that even with Coronavirus, Winnicure can help treat patients because we have seen the proof.
You said you have had this drug for 22 years. Have you ever approached NAFDAC, especially now that Nigeria are battling to weed out COVID-19?
Yes. We have applied to NAFDAC for emergency approval. Besides, we have been working with NAFDAC as far before 2014. But our product was registered in 2004 as a herbal drug which we have been using for HIV and other diseases.
When the rate of COVID-19 infections started going up in Nigeria, , have you gone back to inform NAFDAC of the potency of your herbal drug to treat the virus?
Yes, we did.
And what has been NAFDAC’s response?
The agency has not responded.
We wrote them to May 15, 2020 and we will still write again because what we have is an emergency. They do not need to waste time.
When you sent it to NAFDAC, did you get an acknowledgement copy?
Yes, we got an acknowledgment on May 18, from the Director General’s office on May 18, 2020. We even have an acknowledged copy from the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
Have you gone farther than the 2004 listing with NAFDAC for Winnicure?
We have been working with NAFDAC. Their officials visit and go through our files every time. At least, within three months, they have visited our factory and made inputs.
Why hasn’t the status quo changed from them?
Since it is a herbal drug, I want to guess they are not really interested. We do not have any problem with them. Besides, they are not the one to push the drug for us. It is when we approach them to give emergency approval for COVID-19 infection that we are waiting for their response.
Do you have examples of people who have used your product to cure COVID-19?
Yes, we do. You know that we do not have access to any COVID-19 patient. But it happened by providence. I have a patient in Sokoto State that has been on winniecure herbal drug for other health problems before her husband and son tested positive to COVID-19. It happened that the husband went to the burial of their colleague and unbeknown that the deceased had the virus before he died. The result released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in Sokoto came after the burial and was positive. So after the burial, officials of NCDC had to go round to contact those people who came in contact with him in order to isolate them. They got all of them including those who attended the burial. Now, my patient called to tell me that they have been moved to isolation centre. Although, she was later released because she tested negative. But her husband and son were not released because they tested positive and were undergoing treatment. I told her that it was because she had winniecure that prevented her from contracting the virus. And because of that the medical personnel introduced winniecure to both her husband and son. After about four days, they were discharged. The husband introduced winniecure to another patient in the same isolation ward. The patient had severe symptoms and was at the verge of dying, because he has not slept for about a week. But in the afternoon when they got our product, he started the medication. Right from that moment, he was able to sleep. The symptoms disappeared. Then two days later, he was discharged. I am still in contact with them. The first case is a journalist who is even a health correspondent. His wife was my patient. He granted Africa Independent Television (AIT) an interview live via Skype, explaining how he got infected with COVID-19.
Are herbs used in producing Winnicure are 100% locally sourced?
Has the product been subjected to scientific analysis?
Yes. Normally, before we can formulate drugs in our scientific environment, we have all the equipment which we used to characterised and evaluate it. At the initial stage we took it to the Pahrmocology Department at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, Kaduna State and involved other colleges of medicine and professors who came from different universities to do all the clinical trials in different scientific evaluations. We also made presentations in different fora and published our information in several journals of medicine, both local and international; like the Journal of Pharmacy and Pro-Resources, and Journal of Applied Basic Sciences of July 2005. Winniecure has been assessed by different independent researchers without our knowledge. And, they have made their publications. I happen to see most of them while carrying out my own research. It has been viewed by 138 million people around the world. Another researcher published information without our interference and knowledge on Winnicure. It has been reviewed by 24 other workers and researchers. So, the drug has gone through a lot of scientific findings. Moreover that is what science is all about. When you publish your findings others would go and replicate what you have done to see whether you are lying or whether it is real or not. So, when they get result that corroborates with yours, they will believe your work. That is how sicence is.
Are you ruling out foreign drugs like the Madagascar herbs cure?
How can we be here and people are talking about Madagascar herbs? When you look at what we have in Nigeria especially the efficacy of our herbal drugs is more than anyone around the world. Look at our global positioning, tilted at 23 degree facing the sun that is why the heat here is more than any other part of the world. Madagascar is even towards the temperate region just like South Africa. It is cooler than this place. And when those areas is cooler, the amount of solar energy they absorb is less than what we have. So the concentration of some chemicals that we have here is far more than any other country of the world. So, you cannot compare the potency of our herbal drugs to Madagascar.
Are you willing to allow winniecure be subjected to further scientific analysis?
Yes. But one thing that people need to know is that we do not need another clinical trial for winniecure. It is only new drugs that should follow the process of clinical trial. This is not a new drug so there is no reason for clinical examination. It is just to give emergency approval. Early this year, I think in February, when this COVID-19 emerged, we approached government and told them about our herbal cure, they called us for presentation, we were asked to bring samples of our products, package it with relevant documents to back our claims. We did. They said they would take it to the United States for analysis, claiming not not have capacity to verify. We said the United States may not take them seriously. So, we started doubting and came across this information that they are presenting their own recipe and asking NAFDAC to approve for COVID-19. If they are playing as umpire they are not supposed to do so. It means they are gathering those information from people that went for presentation after they disclosed what you are used in making your products. That is why some people do not have confidence in them and we cannot move forward.