The Treatment and Research Group (TRG) on Ebola said on Wednesday it was making progress in the search for a reliable treatment method for the Ebola Virus Disease.
The Co-chair of the group, Prof Innocent Ujah, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Ujah said that the committee had recommended to the Federal Government an experimental drug, known as T705, for use to treat the disease.
He said that the committee also advised the government to approve the commencement of clinical trials on some of the experimental vaccines.
“We have virtually looked at the experimental drugs and vaccines; it is only one that we have recommended to the Federal Government and that is T705.
“And then we have the experimental vaccines – the Chinese type and then the Canadian type and then of course there is the one that was brought in by CDC.
“We have recommended to government that we need to commence clinical trials on any one of them.“
TRG is a special committee set up by the Federal Government to find better ways of handling the disease.
Ujah said that at its last stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja, the committee had identified claims to preventive and curative measures for the virus and was working on them.
He said the group would not be hasty in choosing a drug or vaccine for Ebola prevention or treatment, stressing that it would follow acceptable procedures.
The co-chair said Nigeria would follow a road map designed by the group of experts in its search for the prevention or cure of the disease.
“We have about 35 of those who claim they can either cure or prevent Ebola; and what we are doing now is cataloging those claims and then later verify; it is not something that we can rush into otherwise we will have problems.
“We don’t want a situation where any of the claimants will be accusing us of being bias, so when we do that we go to the next level.
“So our road map is to, using the clinical trials, study the experimental drugs and vaccines that are available and we do this in partnership with other countries.
“The truth is that once you are doing a clinical trial, it takes a long time; the issue is that you go through the protocol; you must establish the protocol otherwise tomorrow we will have legal issues.“
Ujah dismissed the insinuations that Nigeria lacked the capacity to handle research on Ebola treatment or prevention.
He said Nigeria was blessed with abundance of talents in the sector but decried government’s poor commitment to research, noting that Nigerian scientists were committed to research.
The co-chair urged government and other stakeholders to come to the aid of researchers in Nigeria by making adequate funds available for the purpose of research.
“It is very expensive to undertake research, research requires a lot of investment in terms of money, material and man, you have to train people, you have to have the material but there is no serious commitment to research In Nigeria that is the truth.
“And the answer I give to those who say what is the breakthrough in Nigeria, I say what is your investment in Nigeria, because you must invest to take something from it but I am happy that the Federal Government is considering reserving some fund for health research.
“The implication is that even though we have the manpower we are not maximally utilise the manpower that we have, now Ebola has shown us that we have to look inward.“
Ujah expressed optimism that Nigeria would soon retrace its steps and cultivate a strong culture of research in the health and related sectors.
NAN recalls that the TRG had in the wake of the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria rejected Zmap, an experimental drug meant for the treatment of the Ebola Virus Disease.
TRG is made of renowned Nigerian health scientists based in Nigeria and abroad. (NAN)