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Breakthrough: UNIJOS unveils world first Anti-Snake vaccine

By Emmanuel Elebeke

At last, solution has come the way of victims of snake bite as the African Centre of Excellence in Phytomedicine Research and Development, University of Jos in collaboration with the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion, NOTAP on Wednesday unveiled the first indigenous and world first Anti—Snake vaccine called COVIP-Plus in Abuja.

snake
Snake

The presentation took place at a national forum on promotion of Anti-Snake Venom (COVIP-Plus) for commercialization organised by NOTAP and ACEPRD held at Kanem Suit, Utako, Abuja.

Snake bite is one of the most neglected public health issues that need critical interventions and the current treatment of snake bites has remained monovalent and sometimes expensive (polyvalent), thus the introduction of the new vaccine to minimize the mortality and morbidity rates in the country.

Speaking on the innovation, the chief inventor and Centre Leader of African Centre of Excellence in Phytomedicine Research and Development, University of Jos, Prof. John Aguiyi said the concept of the invention was borne out of the desire to provide affordable and available anti-snake vaccine for Nigerians, especially farmers.

Prof. Aguiyi said the product is ready now and can go to market if NAFDAC approves it for clinical trial, which is the only certificate it needs before it can be commercialized and be made available.

‘‘We have developed the process of manufacturing and we cloned it. With cloning we can manufacture as much kilograms as we will need.

‘‘When the taught first came to me, it was about making available a cost effective anti-venom that will not have any form of adverse effect because what we have in the market today have advert effects to which some people react. I am happy to say that what we have today has proven not to have any of such adverse effect at least in the animals for now. By the time we carry out the clinical trials, we should be able to establish whether such adverse effects are found in humans or not.

‘‘The major thing we have in mind is to bring down the cost of treatment of snake bite. We have seen the prices, one Vive for N32,000 for the monovalent, the polyvalent goes for N52,000. In a very serious situation, you need from five to 10 verves. It becomes imperative that we develop something for our own use from local source and that is what we have done. To crown it, the vaccine can be carried to any corner of Nigeria because it will stand temperature.

On what makes it unique, he said, ‘‘The one in circulation has to be refrigerated, order wise it will lose its potency. They are purported to have been produced in Nigeria but we know where they are produced. It is the first in the world because going through the literatures, you will not find a plant derived anti-snake vaccine. That is what made it to be unique. It was not a day’s journey, took almost 24 years with potency and endurance.’’

He called on government, private sector, pharmaceutical companies and NAFDAC to partner with ACEPRD and NOTAP in the effort to commercialize the product.

Presenting the new vaccine, the director general of NOTAP, Dr. Danazumi Mohammed informed that the collaboration between ACEPRD, University of Jos and NOTAP started with assistance by NOTAP in the growth of indigenous Research and development efforts in support of the growth of the indigenous research and development efforts in Nigeria.

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He explained that the decision of the agency for going into the collaboration with ACEPRD was driven by one of its core mandate of promotion of commercialization of indigenous research and development results and inventions from the National Innovation System, NIS.

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The NIS he said was set up to energize the growth of indigenous capacity, strengthen economic and domestic enterprises of the development of the Nigerian economy.

‘‘NOTAP also has as one of its commercialization mandate, the responsibility of linking the industry with the national Innovation System in order to encourage demand driven research and development projects for commercialization.

‘‘In carrying out its mandate, NOTAP observed a disconnect between the organized private sector and the National Innovation System and the resultant effect is insufficient wealth creation and low value addition to the national economy. Consequently, NOTAP has taken strategic steps by collaborating with inventors, innovators, researchers, scientists, research institutions and the universities to promote their inventions for commercialization.’’

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