The Nigerian government should abandon its plans to procure vaccines from pharmaceutical companies and focus on administering Ivermectin on Nigerians, Philip Njemanze, a medical doctor and research professor of neuroscience, has said.
Speaking at a virtual conference tagged ‘Information for Healthcare Professionals and the Media on Pfitzer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines’ Friday, Mr Njemanze said the government needs to strategically handle the pandemic by administering drugs that help the body fight against the infection and reduce its viral load.
“We are facing a pandemic and the question is how we go about it,” said Mr Njemanze.
“There are established ways to deal with a pandemic, depending on the situation. In this situation, we are facing the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a unique virus because it is constantly mutating.”
Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic drug believed to also have anti-Covid properties, although it has not been confirmed by relevant health authorities.
As of January 24, Nigeria has recorded 121,566 COVID-19 infections with over 1,504 deaths.
The Nigerian government said it would receive at least 100,000 doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech-approved COVID-19 vaccines by the end of January.
But Mr Njemanze said rather than expend resources on vaccines, the Federal Government should prioritise Ivermectin in tackling the virus.
“This Ivermectin should have been and should be our first line of defence. If you prioritise the vaccine and the virus mutates then, there is a bigger challenge. It does not make any medical sense to put our defence on the vaccine. These are not even vaccines, they are genetic devices, ” he said.
“The Pfizer vaccine is not a vaccine, it is a misnomer to say it is a vaccine, it is a genetic device.
“We still do not know the level of allergies that will come from this vaccine and nobody knows that, they will not tell you that. Since we do not know, we have to proceed cautiously, there has to be a real clinical trial to see that the variant of the virus here is responding to it,” Mr Njemanze said.
The health expert warned the Nigerian government not to transpose the trial done in the U.S. and conduct a clinical trial in Nigeria because the fact that the vaccine worked in the U.S. does not mean it will work in Nigeria.
“Can we really trust Pfizer? And I say that in capital terms. In 1996, Pfizer came to this country when we had the meningitis epidemic and brought in a brand new antibiotics which they have never tested.
“If we have such a company without ethical grounds and we want to adopt their vaccine without any clinical trial?”
He said the administration of Pfizer vaccine without any clinical trial conducted by Nigerian doctors was improper.
“What the federal government is doing is totally unconstitutional and illegal, they should not do it. It has to be tried first,” Mr Njemanze added.
Speaking on the cost of the vaccine, the professor said the Nigerian government intends to spend the entire budget of the health sector for the next 10 to 11 years on the COVID-19 vaccine.
“For what purpose? It makes no medical or economic sense, the outlook is very poor even for disease control. What can work right now and we recommend is to continue the distribution of ivermectin all around Nigeria.
“We will achieve such a level of immune protection, it will have not only the COVID-19 prevention gain but wipe out parasites and other diseases. There is a lot to be gained and we are not spending our national budget for it,” he said.
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