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With love, from Madagascar: Understanding COVID-19 cure BY Mayowa Tijani

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I battle lots of misinformation and disinformation on social media daily. As a journalist, quite a good number of people think you have the answers to every question, especially when they found the information in the “news”. I have been asked many questions about the Madagascar cure for COVID-19, which I have dodged and dodged, but today, I have answers.

The most pressing question has been: Does Madagascar really have a cure to COVID-19?

If I say no, my educated friends are quick to say, but Madagascar has over 50 per cent recovery rate, has recorded no deaths, and has less than 100 active cases. They should show us how they are doing it.

This used to be true, but not anymore: Madagascar now has 322 cases, 119 recoveries, and one death. The country’s clean sheet has been stained by the passing of a 57-year-old COVID-19 patient, who was said to have had underlying illnesses. The recovery rate has also gone below 50 per cent.

Nigeria’s recovery rate is less than 30 percent if we can get any drug that takes our recovery rate to 50 per cent or more, shouldn’t we take it? We should. We definitely should. But just follow me.

If I say yes, Madagascar may have a cure, the next question is: So why is the World Health Organisation (WHO) not accrediting the cure? 

Andry Rajoelina, president of Madagascar, has made heavy allegations, suggesting the world is doubting the country’s COVID-19 cure, known as COVID-Organics (CVO) because it originated in Africa.

“I think the problem is that (the drink) comes from Africa and they can’t admit… that a country like Madagascar… has come up with this formula to save the world,” Rajoelina said in an interview with France24.

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“My question for you is: what if this remedy has been discovered by a European country instead of Madagascar, will people doubt it so much? I don’t think so. I can tell you that the Madagascar patients who have received the remedy prove that it works.”

Trust many Africans to get on this train. Since the World Health Organisation (WHO) asked Africans to express caution in taking Madagascar cure, conspiracy theories have taken over many groups on WhatsApp. Some claim the WHO has been paid to discredit the African remedy, others claim that WHO is planning to poison the remedy.

MADAGASCAR TESTED ‘CURE’ ON LESS THAN 20 PEOPLE

I would love to see an African cure to a global healthcare challenge in my lifetime. This has driven my research on the possibility of a COVID-19 cure coming from within the continent. I think I had consciously or unconsciously made this know to people within my sphere.

In March a 15-year-old boy reached out to me, saying he has found a cure for COVID-19. Naturally, one may dismiss it that what does he know about the virus that is tearing the world apart. But I didn’t, I called his parents, spoke with him, had him explain, and I felt what he was saying was reasonable. My background in the sciences knew he was being reasonable, so I linked him up with WHO Nigeria, but things did not seem to go well.

Why? In science, cures go from mere hypothesis, run pre-clinical and clinical trials, before it can be confirmed as a cure. This is Madagascar’s mistake: When the country declared it’s COVID-Organics as a cure to COVID-19, it had only tested it on less than 20 people.

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Lova Hasinirina Ranoromaro, the chief of staff to the president of Madagascar told BBC in April, that the cure had been tested on less than 20 people over a period of three weeks. To make matters worse, the National Academy of Medicine of Madagascar (ANAMEM) said the remedy “is a drug whose scientific evidence has not yet been established, and which risks damaging the health of the population, in particular that of children”.

Officials in the country’s ministry of public health also said they have not been consulted on the COVID-19 remedy.

If a country’s academy of medicine and its ministry of public health say the drug being touted by the country has not been subjected to rigorous scientific processes, and the president’s chief of staff says it has only been tested on fewer than 20 people, should any other nation take it seriously?

HERE IS HOW VACCINES WORK

Vaccines/cures are not political statements, you cannot just announce a drug as both curative and preventive without following due process. It cannot be left to politicians, neither can it be left to scientists alone. Like American political scientist Fareed Zakaria said: “Just as war is too important to be left to the generals, pandemics are too important to be left just to the scientists.” We need both politics and science in the right proportion.

COVID-19 vaccines are not the first in human history, many vaccines came before now, and there was a process to them. According to the global standards, “once a promising vaccine is identified”, they undergo “scrupulous laboratory testing”. This includes careful examination and testing of the vaccine and its ingredients.

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If the ingredients are found to be safe, they then go to clinical trials in three phases. The first phase involves 20 to 50 people to “assess the safety, side effects, appropriate dosage, method of administration, and composition of the vaccine”.

If phase I is successful, phase II kicks off with several hundred people with the same age and sex and other characteristics as the final intended users. If phase II goes on well, then phase III is activated. Here, the vaccine is usually given to thousands of people to help ensure it is safe and effective for broader use.

Regulators then assess the results of the vaccine trials and decide based on hard evidence, if the vaccine can be regarded as a safe cure to a certain disease or not. This often takes years, but for COVID-19, the world is in a hurry for a cure, so everything is done at a faster pace, but even the fastest vaccine is expected to take 12 months.

As of May 15, 118 vaccine candidates have been submitted to WHO for trials — 110 are in pre-clinical trials, while eight have made it to clinical trials, including the popular University of Oxford drug.

It is interesting to note that Madagascar’s remedy has not been listed for these trials. This is what Madagascar ought to be pushing now. We want to declare a remedy, without going through the process.

Yes, we want Africa to solve global problems, but would you subject your life to an untested remedy? Your answer is as great as mine.

Follow ‘Mayowa on Twitter @OluwamayowaTJ

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Covid-19: Lagos may run out of isolation bed spaces in three weeks, Health commissioner says

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Covid-19: Lagos may run out of isolation bed spaces in three weeks, Health commissioner says

Lagos State may have no more bed spaces for coronavirus patients in the next three weeks if the current rate of infection keeps rising, Health Commissioner Akin Abayomi warned on Friday.

Confirmed cases across the country rose by 328 to a total of 11844 on Friday according to figures released by the National  Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Of this latest figure, Lagos State had 121 bringing its total cases to 5,663.

“If we keep getting 150, 200 positives every day, in another two or three weeks, even though we’re opening new isolation centres all the time, in time, we’re going to run out of beds,” Abayomi told reporters in Ikeja.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 has claimed 42 per cent of Nigerian jobs, NBS says

He said:

“We’ve been testing more. We’ve been escalating our capacity to test for COVID-19 and what we’ve found is that the more we test, the more we find, which is a reflection of the fact that COVID-19 is spreading within the community and we’re finding more cases than we can manage eventually when we project,” he said.

“If we carry on with the rate of positive testing that we are obtaining, we’re going to run out of isolation beds in our established isolation facilities.

“Therefore, we are projecting. If we keep getting 150, 200 positives every day, in another two or three weeks, even though we’re opening new isolation centres all the time, in time, we’re going to run out of beds.”

A breakdown of the fresh infections released last night by the NCDC is as follows: Lagos-121 ; FCT-70; Bauchi-25; Rivers-18; Oyo-16; Kaduna-15; Gombe -14; Edo-13 ;Ogun-13 ;Jigawa-8; Enugu-6; Kano-5 ; Osun-2 ;and Ondo-2 .

So far  3696 case have been discharged while 333 deaths have been recorded.

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Reopening of worship centres: The Church cannot dictate to authorities – Abiara

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A former General Evangelist of the Christ Apostolic Church, Prophet Kayode Abiara, has urged pastors to abide by the guidelines of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on reopening of worship centres, saying they are in the interest of the people.

Abiara said this on Friday while reacting to the news of the reopening of religious centres in the state.

The cleric said the church does not have the right to dictate to authorities as the Bible clearly instructs that the people in government should be honoured as they have been appointed by God.

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Abiara said,

“We thank God for the life of our governor, he has been working very hard and we pray that God will continue to help him. It is good that he opened the churches as the house of God is the house of prayer and people should gather to pray.

“But on the issue of restricting members of a certain age, we will talk to the governor to revisit the issue as we believe that there is nothing God cannot do.”

Abiara added that churches should devise means within their power to hold services in line with the government’s guidelines and whatever objections they had should be humbly presented to the government as a piece of advice.

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He added,

“According to the Bible, we must not disobey those in government. We can only advise and device means to cooperate with the directives of the government.

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Covid-19: FCT announces discharge of 30 patients

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Covid-19: FCT announces discharge of 30 patients

The Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, has announced the discharge of 30 COVID-19 patients.

The minister of FCT, Muhammad Musa Bello disclosed this on his official Twitter page on Saturday morning.

According to him, the patients were discharged after they tested negative twice to coronavirus.

This brings the total number of recovered patients in Abuja to 245.

His tweet read: “Dear FCT residents,I bring you good news as we successfully treated and discharged an additional thirty (30), #COVID19 patients, from our treatment facilities in the FCT.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: Enugu records three more cases

“The total number of discharged patients in the FCT is now 245. “

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) on Friday night, announced 328 new cases of COVID-19 in the country.

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Lagos recorded the highest number with 121 cases, FCT had 70, while Bauchi recorded 25.

328 new cases were reported from 14 states- Lagos(121), FCT(70),Bauchi(25), Rivers(18), Oyo(16), Kaduna(15), Gombe(14), Edo(13),Ogun(13), Jigawa(8), Enugu(6), Kano(5), Osun(2), Ondo(2).

It brings the total number of confirmed cases to 11,844.

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