By Thomas-Wilson Ikubese
In November 2019, China recorded the first case of Covid-19, a viral infection caused by
SARS-COV2, a novel Corona virus.
The virus soon spread across the world like wild fire and at about 1 am on Friday 28 January 2020, Nigeria announced sub- Saharan Africa’s first confirmed case of the coronavirus.
As at June 28, five months after the index case, Nigeria has recorded 24,567 confirmed cases, discharged 9,007 with 565 deaths in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
I’m however of the opinion that the number of Covid-19 cases in Nigeria is far more than is currently reported by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) because as at June 28th, 2020 only a total of 130,164 tests have been carried out in a population of about 200 million people, making up a paltry 0.065% of the Nigerian populace.
As at June 28, 2020 Nigeria has only 30 laboratories that can test for Covid-19, all in the NCDC molecular laboratory network, scattered across the 12 states of Lagos, Ogun, Kaduna, Borno, Kano, Plateau, Oyo, Osun, Ebonyi, Rivers, Edo, Imo, and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
If every state had a Covid-19 testing centre and aggressive testing excercise were embarked upon, the number of confirmed cases will rise astronomically!
All over the world, scientists are working tirelessly to develop a vaccine to protect humans against this novel virus. Unfortunately, a Corona virus vaccine is still months away.
This brings to fore the need for Nigeria to look inward for home-made remedies, rather than wait perpetually upon the West for a solution that may not come anytime soon.
A few African countries have taken the initiative to develop local remedies to this raging pandemic, top of which is Madagascar, an island country of less than 28 million people.
President Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar in April, during a teleconference of African Heads of State, proudly publicised Covid-Organic, developed by Malasy Institute of Applied Research, from artemisia – an antimalaria plant that grows on the Island. The liquid herbal preparation which has caught global attention is now at the verge of being developed into capsules for convenience.
The sample which was donated to Nigeria by Madagascar, was delivered to President Buhari by the President of Guinea Bissau, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, during a courtesy visit to Buhari, who had earlier directed that whenever it arrived Nigeria, the drug should be subjected to thorough analysis and scrutiny by the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), for possible use in the country as it is the case for any new, local or foreign medication.
However, up until this moment, the two agencies have not received the donated samples, well over a month after it arrived Nigeria!
While it is expedient that the Honourable Minister for Health should facilitate this Presidential directive as to save the lives of Nigerians, it is even more Germain that we look inward for a local remedy to this pandemic.
Many diligent Nigerians have come up to announce that they have cure for Covid-19 in recent times, top of which are Maurice Iwu, a professor of pharmacognosy and the Ojeihs, owners of Iris Medical Foundation Ikeja that developed Venedi Elixir.
Unlike Covid-Organic, Venedi Elixir is not a new formulation. It was actually registered by NAFDAC in 2001 as a herbal supplement.
Venedi Elixir is the product of a painstaking research carried out by late Prof. Paul Olisa Ojeih in 1984 during his sojourn in Asia. In 1985, he integrated plants enzymes into an elixir, a very potent antiviral elixir; known today as Venedi.
Following the demise of Prof Ojeih in 2011, his son Dr Paul Ojeih took over the management of the firm, now known as Iris Medical Foundation Drugs and Pharmaceutical Nigeria.
In a recent letter to the Honourable Minister for Information, Dr Ojeih stated that Venedi Elixir can cure Covid-19 after 72 hours of administration, requesting that the Federal Government gives him ten Covid-19 confirmed cases whom he claimed will test negative within 72hrs of the administration of this medication. This request according to Dr Ojeih has thus far met with brick wall!
Dr Ojeih recalled that in 1985 there was a major viral out break in Tanzania, with a fatality ratio of 9 deaths in every 10 infections, on a daily basis!
The then president, Julius Nyanrere was said to have invited Prof Dr Paul Ojeih Snr, founder of Iris Medical foundation who stepped into Tanzania and within 3 months the virus was contained and in 6 months there was a cure, using Venedi Elixir. The virus was later classified as Ebola virus, a much more lethal virus than the Corona virus, which Dr Ojeih fondly refers to as “a baby virus”.
Going by the claims so far made by Iris Foundation on the curative potential of Venedi Elixir, I call on President Buhari to direct NIPRD and NAFDAC to embark pronto on the analysis and clinical trial of this drug to verify its efficacy in treating Covid-19.
Anything other than this will give credence to the allegation by Dr Ojeih, that “the government doesn’t want to listen because this Covid pandemic is a money making venture with which they are putting fears in the minds of Nigerians and keeping them at home while milking our economy dry”!
Now, Covid-19 cases are rising daily from community transmission and more Nigerians are dying thereby. We can’t afford to play politics with the lives of our people if in deed a cure exists right here on our soil.
While we preach social distancing, use of facemask, washing of hands and use of sanitizers, let’s work assiduously at generating a local cure soonest, so that those who are eventually infected will not need to die, but walk to the next Pharmaceutical store, purchase the cure, like they do for antimalaria drugs and go about their normal activities without apprehension.
To enforce this flow, the Federal government in conjunction with state governments must work tirelessly at establishing at least one Covid-19 testing centre in each state capital across the Federation in the shortest possible time, so that more people can be tested on daily basis, while those who are confirmed positive get the cure without much ado.
Let all men and women of good conscience arise and lend their voices to this clarion call, that these locally developed “cures” be urgently subjected to clinical analysis and trial, rather than we waiting for a western vaccine that may not be coming anytime soon, for our salvation now lies neither in the West nor in a repeat of yet another lockdown!
*Dr Ikubese, Medical Director of Sckye Hospitals Ltd and Convener YesWeFit Revolutionary Movement, writes from Akure.