The Minister of State for Health, Dr Adeleke Olorunimbe Mamora, has condemned those circulating conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines, saying they are not only doing a great disservice to frontline healthcare workers, but also desecrating memories of loved ones lost to the disease.
Mamora made the disclosure at the recent commissioning of a Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) machine, newly acquired by the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) for surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 and other infectious agents, such as the Lassa fever virus and Ebola.
While disclosing his readiness to take the jab, the health minister stated that it was the commissioning assignment that prevented him from being available for the PTF vaccination same day as earlier scheduled.
“I’m not afraid to take the vaccination, because I’m not one of the peddlers of conspiracy theories”, he declared.
He further stated that those peddling conspiracy theories are apparently ignorant of the great harm they are doing to the memory of those who have died of the coronavirus disease, as well as the discouragement they are causing for frontline healthcare workers who are risking their lives to provide care and combat the disease.
“Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing,” he said, alluding to the prayer of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Commending the management of NIMR on their efforts in curbing the spread of the virus, he said the institute had not only taken the nation to the next level, in line with the slogan of the ruling APC, but had also the next generation of sequencing.
He said: “The importance of the NGS machine in this era of COVID-19 pandemic cannot be over-emphasised. The world has grappled with one of the highest mortalities and morbidity incidence in the history of mankind.
“The NGS machine will not only serve in the molecular surveillance of SARS-CoV-2, but also prepare us in the fight against other infectious agents such as Lassa fever virus, Ebola, and any other infectious agents characterised by the genetic code.
“Other areas of life science NGS research such as transcriptomics, genetic polymorphisms and epigenetics can be achieved using this newly installed equipment.”
Stressing the necessity of vaccination to healthcare practitioners, Mamora noted that while vaccination is voluntary in the country, it might become a travelling requirement later.
“As we progress, it may get to a point of requesting for your vaccination certificate as a requirement to travel into a foreign country, because every nation has the right to decide who comes into its territory,” Mamora stated.
NIMR DG, Prof. Babatunde Salako, had earlier disclosed that the new NGS machine was fully funded by the Federal Ministry of Health through the Federal Government’s COVID-19 intervention fund.
Salako, who recalled that it was exactly a year ago when the minister last visited the institute, revealed further that the full genome sequencing laboratory “is capable of supporting the NCDC in their genomic surveillance and more importantly, our genomic research in all ramifications.”
The Professor of Nephrology also hinted on the collaboration between the institute and Usmanu Danfodiyo University and the National Veterinary Institute, Jos, on the development of a local COVID-19 candidate.
He said: “Although COVID-19 vaccines are now available around the world, the continuous mutation of the virus, forming new strains and variants of concern, has made development of new vaccines inevitable. Our institute in collaboration with the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, National Veterinary Institute, Jos, have formed an alliance to begin robust research on vaccine development in Nigeria.
“We have approached Tetfund through the Usmanu Danfodiyo University for support in this regards. The platform will create a template for vaccine development generally in the country.”