By: Alfred Saiki,
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Jos, Prof. Seddi Sebastian Maimako on the 27th of August, 2019, at a Press Conference announced to the world another great achievement of the Institution, as it has developed a snakebite vaccine-COVIP-Plus.
The VC, who was represented by Prof. John Aguiyi, Director, Africa Centre of Excellence in Phytomedicine Research and Development (ACEPRD), described the vaccine as having the potential to affect not just Nigeria, but globally how snakebite is treated.
The vaccine, which was developed by ACEPRD, also works against scorpion stings, spiders, bee stings and all venomous animal bites.
“COVIP-Plus successful clinical trials have the potential to introduce a paradigm shift in the management of snakebite in Nigeria and globally. The vaccine holds the potential to drastically reduce the use of anti-snake sera globally. The vaccine equally holds the potential to reduce household poverty and contribute to the achievement of SDGs”, he stated”.
Describing how COVIP-Plus works, the VC said, “An essential approach to tackling snakebite is to prevent or neutralize snake venom on its arrival at the human and animal tissue or blood and this requires a prophylactic agent or a vaccine. At present, such a vaccine against snakebite venoms does not exist. COVIP-Plus is an anti-Venom Vaccine.
“COVIP-Plus is derived from the seeds of a plant traditionally used by the Rukuba (BACE) people of Bassa in Plateau state, Nigeria to prevent snakebite envenoming without any anecdotally reported adverse effects. The identification, manufacture and use of COVIP-Plus may reduce snakebite venom-related burden.”
With the high cost of clinical trial of drugs and production, the VC appealed to the Federal Government and other agencies to come to the aid of ACEPRD.
He said, “I am also worried with the capital-intensiveness in conducting clinical trials of drugs, vaccines and devices. I am made to understand by the Researcher that N200,000,000.000 is required for the phase one clinical trials. The phase two clinical trials will also require close to N400,000,000.000. The phase three will require much more.
“I am therefore calling on the TETFUND and the Pharmaceutical industries to collaborate towards conducting the trials of this product. I am calling on the Federal Government through its relevant agencies to work to see this product get out of the door to the people. It will be cheap, compared to what is being sold to Nigerians right now. It will be accessible to the rural population who are victims of the plight of snakebite.”
Fielding questions from journalists, Prof. John Aguiyi, explained that the vaccine can be used for both humans and animals. He said the price of the vaccine which he described as very potent would be between N5,000 and N10,000. He added that another advantage of the vaccine is that it doesn’t require refrigeration for transportation.
He said what they Center wants now is partnership from within, as they have already gotten foreign partners from abroad. With partnership from within, he said the production plant would be in Plateau state, which is what the Center wants.