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Agwale, Ihekweazu To Discuss Covid-19 Vaccines, Lessons At 14th Annual Scientific Expo

By Benjamin Churchill

The chair of Africa Covid-19 Vaccine Manufacturing Initiative, Dr Simon Agwale, and the director general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, are among key scientists to speak during Friday’s 14thAnnual Scientific Conference and Exposition. The virtual conference, scheduled between September 25th and 26th, has ‘Covid-19 Pandemic: Evolution of Science, Practice and Training’ as its theme. It is being organised by the Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists in the Americas, Inc (NAPPSA), in partnership with the Nova Southeastern University College of Pharmacy.

Dr Agwale, who is the executive director of Innovative Biotech, Keffi, Nigeria, and Innovative Biotech, USA, will speak on ‘Vaccine Development for Covid-19’, while Dr Ihekweazu will deliver a keynote address on ‘Nigeria’s Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic, Lessons and Future Plans’.

Topics to be discussed at the exposition include ‘Learning Challenges During a Global Epidemic and How to Cope: The Preceptor and Student Perspective’; ‘Covid-19: Consequent for Higher Education and Training’; ‘Optimisation of e-Health Technologies for Mitigation of Covid-19 Pandemic in Africa’; ‘Surviving the Covid-19 Surge: Lessons from GroundZero, NYC’; ‘Covid-19: Diagnostic Testing Now and Beyond’; and ‘The Implication of Pharmaceutical R&D, Manufacturing and Regulation’.

The moderators include Okezie I Aruoma, PhD; Teresa Pound, PhD, and Dr Anthony Ikeme, president, Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists in the Americas.

Dr Agwale, had in a pre-conference interview on Friday, said the threat posed by the pandemic made it imperative for African stakeholders to brace for the challenge. In his words, “The speed of both the geographical transmission and the sudden increase in numbers of cases is much faster than Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Covid-19 is the first global pandemic caused by a coronavirus with outbreaks in about 211 countries.

The pandemic has infected millions of people with no clear signs of abatement owing to the high prevalence, long incubation period and lack of established treatments or vaccines. A vaccine will be by far the most powerful weapon for reversing these truly horrific trends. My presentation will highlight various strategies in vaccine development, possible vaccine candidates, and vaccine production process pertaining to Covid-19 based on the knowledge acquired in vaccine development in the past.

I will also make a case for Africa to be involved in the search for a Covid-19 vaccine and briefly share our efforts in developing a candidate vaccine that is suitable for Africa.”

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