No Lassa Fever vaccine anywhere in the world, says Virologist

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A Virologist, Prof Simeon Magaji Agwale, yesterday, insisted that there is no certified vaccine for the treatment of Lassa Fever anywhere in the world, stressing that Nigeria was best suited to develop vaccines for the cure of the disease for the rest of the world.

He stated that what currently obtain in parts of the world for the treatment of the disease was candidate vaccines, explaining that the development was so because the disease has not been noticed in developed countries.

Agwale, who spoke as the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientist of Nigeria (MLSCN), identified lack of political will by government as responsible for its inability to establish vaccine factory in the country.

Delivering the 12th Public Health Lecture on the theme, ëVaccine efficacy: Impact of utilisation of indigenous Microbial Strains in the formulation and production of vaccines in Nigeria, Agwale noted that setting up a vaccine factory locally was key to solving the health problems of the country.

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He said: I dont think there is really interest in doing that locally, because of the interest of the people that are used to importing vaccine in the country, so they will not be really keen in supporting initiatives like this.

So, all we are asking government to do is to back this initiative, support it and ensure that it happens, and that is the only way we can eradicate diseases plaguing us in Nigeria.

The government needs to know that without this high-tech, it is not about creating employment; it is about creating the right employment, creating the platform for us to solve our problems, because if you have that capacity developed in Nigeria, any disease that comes will be taken care, as you have the platform to make it happen.

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There is no reason for any Nigerian would die from Lassa. We can team up around the Lassa to solve our problem. So, if government wants to solve the Lassa problem, it can work with us, because we have demonstrated and shown from the data we have that this problem can be solvedî.

Agwale, who is the chief executive officer of the Innovative Biotech, said that his team had developed vaccines for Typhoid, which were currently being distributed by an Indian partner, adding that studies were still being carried out on malaria vaccines.He called on MLSCN to continue advocacy on establishment of vaccine factory, saying it would not only reduce pressure on foreign countries being depended on by Nigeria, but also reduce the high foreign exchange that go into it.

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Acting Registrar, MLSCN, Mr. Tosan Erhabor, said that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has shown the willingness to support local manufacturing, adding that the body had made presentation of the need for local vaccine manufacturing in the country.He expressed confident that approval for the factory would soon be given and private individuals and organisations that would drive the initiative were ready and waiting.

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