Experts have posited that vaccine development alone may not be enough in the battle to stem the surging and ravaging tide of COVID-19 globally.
The statistics look gloomy as the world fights a pandemic that is in its second year. Over 137m infections have so far been reported with over three million deaths.
Making their presentations at the first African Global Health Issues Webinar organized on April 15, 2021, by Career Bridge Foundation in partnership with the Indiana University (IU) Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, the experts noted that vaccines and other therapeutic approaches developed by the Western World will not be enough.
Speaking on the topic – “Does Basic Research Support Anti-Covid-19 Potencies of African Plant Extractions”, Prof Omotuyi Olaposi, professor of Biochemistry and Pharmaceutical Science, argued that while it would take a long time to vaccinate a reasonable percentage of the global population, “even the long-term safety and potency of vaccines is in doubt”.
According to him, fears and concerns that have been expressed around the world about the medium to long-term side effects of the vaccines are not far-fetched and cannot be waved aside.
Professor Olaposi advocated for a serious and committed focus on how plants could be used to complement existing therapeutic alternatives on the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.
“How come we did not put into use the lessons learnt from the development of drugs from plants”, he asked, adding that these plants have the capacity to add value to the body of knowledge. He added: “We are overlooking the opportunities that medicinal plants possess. There are over 250 species of plants with capacities to prevent and cure COVID-19”.
If Africa is to play any relevant role in finding a cure to COVID-19, Professor Olaposi listed seven important steps that must be taken. They are:
- Identify the medicinal plants that have the capacity to cure COVID-19.
- Do extensive research on the identified plants’ crude formulation.
- Invest massively in finding what works through fractionation.
- Characterise the contents of the plants
- Develop models to test those fractions
- Get necessary approvals for listing for clinical trials.
- Liaise with local, regional, and international bodies for validation and approval.
In his own presentation, Professor Moyo Bamidele, Associate professor of Global Health and Biostatistics, School of Global Health and Bioethics, EYCLID University, CAR, who spoke on “Public Health Surveillance and Data Collection: COVID-19 Context” underlined the importance of public health surveillance reliable data collection in the battle against COVID-19.
Mr. Modupe Olowodahunsi, CEO of Career Bridge, said the webinar was organised to educate people and offer the African perspective on the battle against COVID-19. According to him, it was part of the social responsibility and humanitarian initiative of the Foundation, which also includes medical outreaches and skills acquisition programmes.
He disclosed that over 4000 people benefitted in the medical outreach organised in Osun State by the Foundation, while 500 youths learnt vocational skills for free.
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