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COVID-19: Nigerian doctors raise hope for home-made drugs

...as Osinbajo pledges FG’s support

A team of Nigerian doctors comprising of researchers from the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and Diaspora-based professors and scientists have raised hope about the effectiveness of, and roles that Ivermectin drug can play in the treatment of the coronavirus disease.

The team has submitted its report on the usefulness of the drug to the World Health Organisation (WHO) which has appointed a peer review experts from the United Kingdom.

Elated at the milestone achieved so far, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who received a brief on the report by the team led by Femi Babalola, the principal investigator, and Chris Bode, the chief medical director of LUTH, expressed excitement that Nigeria and Nigerians “are at the cutting edge of scientific research into the Covid-19 treatment.”

According to him, “we have an opportunity here and I am so fascinated to hear this drug has been used in the treatment of River Blindness in this country.”

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While commending the efforts of the team, Osinbajo added that with the report, Nigeria is at an advantage both in knowledge and availability of the drug, especially since Ivermectin has been found useful not only in the treatment of Covid-19 but also as a prophylactic medication.

He disclosed that the Federal Government would explore further ways to support the research for the benefit of Nigerians and humanity generally, while also advancing the effective funding of scientific research in the country.

Members of the group named IVERCOVID Research Group are the principal investigator, Femi Babalola, an ophthalmologist and surgeon; the chief medical director of LUTH, Chris Bode; the chairman of the Medical Advisory Council at LUTH, Lanre Adeyemo; a US-based clinical pharmacologist, Adesuyi Ajayi; two project virologists: S.A Omilabu and Olumuyiwa Salu; and also the project coordinator, Felix Alakaloko.

They also commended the presidency for encouraging the research and thanked the Vice President for his personal role and support.

The report is titled, “A randomised controlled trial for the repurposing of Ivermectin in the management of Covid-19,” and highlights are discussed below:

The research carried out in the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) was undertaken following the report of a 5,000-fold reduction in viral load by Australian workers with in-vitro use of Ivermectin on Covid-19 in culture.

The PI has worked extensively with Ivermectin on the Onchocerciasis-river Blindness control programme, through which many Nigerians have used Ivermectin.

The study is said to have revealed that the mechanism of action of Ivermectin, include“inhibiting viral entry into cells nucleus; and “direct suppression of viral RNA load of SARS COV 2,” among others.

Ivermectin is orally absorbed with higher absorption as a solution better than tablets, and “The Mean Residence Time” (MRT) is 3.4 days. This informs the suggested frequency of dosing, i.e. twice a week.

The research’s Null hypothesis noted that: “Safe doses of Ivermectin are not useful in the treatment of patients with virology proven Covid-19 disease, does not lower viral load, and does not shorten time to negativity, neither does it cause improvement in clinical parameters when compared to Lopinavir/ritonavir/placebo.”

But its alternative hypothesis revealed that “safe doses of Ivermectin are useful in the treatment of patients with virology proven Covid- 19 disease, lowering viral load, shortening time to negativity, and causing improvement in clinical parameters when compared with Lopinavir/ Ritonavir/placebo.”

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