Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The Federal Government on Wednesday said it has validated three of the numerous claims of local COVID-19 cures.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, made the disclosure this on Wednesday at the daily briefing of the Task Force.

He said this followed the Federal Ministry of Health’s virtual meeting with a number of researchers and scientists with claims of cure for COVID-19.

He said: ‘As a measure of the importance attached to research and development of local capacity for finding a cure to the COVID-19, the Federal Ministry of Health held a virtual meeting with a number of researchers and scientists with claims to cure for COVID-19 and out of the numerous claimants, three were found to deserve further investigation and have been forwarded to the relevant authorities for appropriate review. Similarly, efforts are being made by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology to subject a good number of locally manufactured COVID-19 equipment to verification and subsequent certification.’

The PTF chairman noted that the subject of research has been central to the mandate, thinking and planning of the PTF.

He said: ‘Studies have shown that countries in Africa are so far experiencing a lower rate of transmission, fewer severe cases, and fewer deaths than had been predicted in previous estimates. A recent publication by WHO on risk modelling for 47 countries in the Africa Region predicts 82,000-190,000 deaths during the first year of the pandemic. However, African countries need to take measure to respond to this worst-case situation while also ensuring the continuation of existing services would certainly stretch our already burdened health systems.

‘Countries in the region need to progressively increase their capacity to detect cases, not just to know the extent of the outbreak, but also to identify and initiate care for people most at risk. They also need to expand the capacity to mitigate the implications of widespread community transmission of COVID-19.

‘Above all, more research to determine the underlying factors for the current trend in the pandemic in Africa is needed. In addition to pursuing this line of thought, the occurrences in Kano and some other cities have given us cause to launch our research initiatives using existing structures and systems in a manner that will build a legacy and also prepare Nigeria for any future pandemic.

‘The PTF is happy to note that the Central Bank of Nigeria has indicated the willingness to support research efforts. This is, therefore, a call on our researchers and scientists to take up the challenge.’

Mustapha reiterated the PTF’s advisory against self-medication in treating COVID-19. He said: ‘Particularly, the use of hydroxychloroquine was discouraged because it had not been certified for use in treating COVID-19. We have read in the media about the side effects of the use of this drug from COVID-19 patients that survived as well as those who took it outside clinical supervision.

‘The World Health Organization (WHO) has temporarily suspended all clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19. This advice was informed by a study which identified that the use of hydroxychloroquine, either alone or with other drugs, has been responsible for a high number of deaths. This precautionary measure by the WHO underscores the importance of not only seeking expert medical advice but also ensuring that all claims to treatment by scientists and researchers, whether conventional or traditional should be subjected to scientific certification protocols by NAFDAC and other relevant institutions so as to guarantee the efficacy of the discovery.’

The SGF assured that the Muhammadu Buhari Administration feels the economic pains Nigerians are passing through and it is for this reason that beyond the number of stimulus packages especially for citizens that rely on daily subsistence, the gradual opening up of the economy is also a strategy in preparing for a post-COVID economy.

‘To achieve this objective, the PTF has continued to brief the National Economic Council and the Nigeria Governors Forum. It has also collaborated with the Economic Sustainability Committee, the Economic Impact Committee and the Committee on Free Movement of Agricultural and Allied Produce.

‘The PTF also continues to interact with the private sector, religious and traditional rulers in pursuit of a robust national response,’ he said.

Speaking on the Eid celebration, Mustapha said the PTF observed activities nationwide and the reports received were mixed.

According to him, the way this year’s Eid was celebrated ‘further reminds us that we are living in unusual times occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, thus bringing out the need to strengthen our resolve to change our behaviour and get attuned to new ways of life because what we used to know as normal has been permanently changed.’

He said the task force, however, remains committed to the pursuit of strategies that would promote citizens well-being and channel resources towards efforts that would guarantee the nation overcome this pandemic while limiting its negative effects on individual and collective survival.

Mustapha announced that the Federal Government has released protocol on community ownership of COVID-19 management.

He said that a protocol has been developed and it gives community members greater involvement and ownership in identifying and supporting the case management process. The details will be unfolded in the coming days.

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