UNIJOS develops anti-snake venom, seeks partnership to make it affordable

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Jos—The Vice-Chancellor of University of Jos, Professor Sebastian Maimako has announced the development of anti-snake venom vaccine known as COVIP-Plus, developed after 24 years of intensive research by a team at the African Centre of Excellence in Phytomedicine Research Development (ACEPRD) in the university.

Maimako, represented by the Director of the Research Centre, Professor John  Aguiyi disclosed the breakthrough yesterday at a briefing at the New Senate Chamber at the Naraguta Campus (Permanent Site) in Jos, the Plateau State capital.

According to him, “An essential approach to tackling snakebite is to prevent or neutralise snake venom on its arrival at human and animal tissue or blood and the requires a prophylactic agent or a vaccine. At present, such a vaccine against snakebite venom does not exist; COVIP-Plus is an anti-venom vaccine. It is derived from the seed of a plant traditionally used by the Rukuba (Bacche people of Bassa in Plateau State, Nigeria) to prevent snakebite envenoming without any anecdotally reported adverse effects.

“The vaccine which has already been tested on animals is to undergo the human test in three different phases in meeting with the standard of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in making the product a globally certified and accepted vaccine in the world though capitally extensive. I am also worried with the capital-intensiveness in conducting clinical trials of drugs, vaccines and devices. I am made to understand by the Researcher that N200 million is required for the phase-one clinical trials. The phase-two clinical trials will also require close to N400 million and the phase-three will require much more.”

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