Two Nigerian private universities, the Precious Cornerstone University, Ibadan, Oyo State and the Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State, are funding a team of young scientists and researchers to develop vaccine for prevention of dreaded Coronavirus pandemic.
The scientists and researchers under the aegis of COVID-19 Research Group are drawn from some Nigerian universities.
The vaccine, which name has not been disclosed, is expected to be unveiled in the next 18 months, after series of studies, analyses and approvals by relevant medical authorities.
The study by the team leading to discovery of the vaccine was coordinated by the Vice-Chancellor of Precious Cornerstone University, Ibadan, Oyo State, Prof. Julius Oloke, and was assisted by the Dean, Faculty of Science, Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State, Prof. Olubukola Oyawoye of the Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State.
The Precious Cornerstone University, Ibadan and the Adeleke University, Ede are major financiers of the study.
Members of the team include Dr. Oladipo Kolawole of Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State; Dr. Ajayi Folorunsho from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Oyo State; Dr. Onile Samson from Elizade University, Ilara-Mokin, Ondo State; Dr. Ariyo Elijah Olumuyiwa from Federal Teaching Hospital, Ido, Ekiti State.
Making a presentation of the process that led to the development of the vaccine at a press briefing at the Adeleke University, Ede on Thursday, the leader of the team, Dr. Oladipo Kolawole, disclosed the plan to start the animal trial of the developed potential vaccine candidates.
Kolawole, a specialist in Medical Virology, Immunology and Bioinformatics at the Adeleke University, Ede further disclosed that the Trinity Immunodeficient Laboratory and Helix Biogen Consult, Ogbomosho, Oyo State contributed N7.8 million to the study which led to the discovery of the vaccine.
Explaining that the vaccine was being developed locally in Africa for Africans, he assured that it would also work for other races when eventually unveiled.
He also disclosed that the research was carried out at the Genomics Research Hub of Helix Biogen Consult in Ogbomoso.
According to him, the team of researchers had worked extensively by exploring the SARS-CoV-2 genome from African countries to select the best possible potential vaccine candidates.
He added that after trying out some selected processes of vaccine development, the researchers had been able to choose the best potential vaccine candidates for the SARS-CoV-2 and had made the possible latent vaccine constructs.
Earlier, represented by his deputy, Prof. Solomon Adebola, the Adeleke University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Samuel Ekundayo Alao, pledged the university’s continued financial support for the research.
He said: “The serene environment of Adeleke University is a replica of the Garden of Eden. We are glad that a vaccine that would provide solution to a global problem like coronavirus pandemic is coming from the garden. It is our passion to be a solution provider to such a global pandemic and we are ready to throw our weight behind the team and make the vaccine a reality.”
Also, the Head of the Coordinating Unit of the Research Group and Vice Chancellor of Precious Cornerstone University, Ibadan, Prof. Julius Oloke, commended the collaboration between Adeleke University and Precious Cornerstone University.
“It’s a pleasure that we have come together to produce a vaccine at a time that the world is in need of solution to a ravaging pandemic. It’s a proof that we are working and not folding our hands or looking away from the problem,” Oloke said.
He added: “The vaccine is real. We have validated it severally. It is targeted at Africans but will also work for other races. It will work. It can not be faked. This is a result of determination. It took a lot of scientific efforts.”
“The population of those that need vaccines is more than those that need drugs. That is why the research focussed on vaccine.”
Prof. Oyawoye, in her remarks, gave an assurance on the integrity of the vaccine.
She said: “Adeleke University is focused on quality. Whatever we do here meets the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) standard. For environmental factor, COVID-19 varies. But whatever works for us here, can work for others in Africa and the entire globe.”