APART from our late response to the coronavirus pandemic back in March 2020, the weak capacity in our health system and lacklustre citizen support through the provision of palliatives, Nigeria has generally fared quite well in its reaction to the scourge.
We commend the Federal Government for resisting the temptation to pander to sentiments and potentially commit blunders that would have made Nigeria a laughingstock in a global community struggling against the pandemic.
In his various national broadcasts, President Muhammadu Buhari had always emphasised that Nigeria would adhere strictly to the guidelines and strategies approved by the scientists and healthcare professionals in responding to the challenge.
The regular briefings by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has also meticulously adopted this approach in its advocacies. To a very large extent, the states (except Cross River and Kogi which chose to live in denial) have followed the same pattern.
Even when the Madagascar herbal remedy seemed the populist African miracle cure, and a foreign head of state brought samples to Buhari, we resisted the urge to place orders. We opted to subject the mixture to scientific validation.
It has turned out that the mixture had limited efficacy. COVID-19 hit Madagascar so hard that it started desperately looking for international help. We should maintain the same cool head towards the Russian vaccine, which is the latest talk of town.
The vaccine, Sputnik V, was announced by Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, as the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine which has already been deployed against the country’s heavy caseload.
Against the background of allegation that the vaccine did not complete the mandatory third phase of human trials, we must maintain our cool for now. The President of the Nigerian Medical Association, Prof. Anthony Ujah, has advised that before Sputnik V can be brought into Nigeria, “it should be subjected to further studies and evaluation”.
Nigerians should not be submitted as COVID-19 vaccine “guinea pigs”. The need for caution is accentuated by the various conspiracy theories that have been spawned in the pandemic’s wake, with Africans and Blacks allegedly targeted for strategic depopulation.
Happily, there are already dozens of candidate vaccines, many of which are in the crucial third and final trial phase. It is only a matter of months before the world may have its pick of safe COVID-19 vaccines.
Nigeria has been fortunate so far in our COVID-19 experience. After almost five months under the scourge, the official number of persons who have died of the virus stand at 1,007 as of Wednesday.
For a country over 200 million people, that is low when compared with others in similar circumstances. We are optimistic that the doomsday scenario we had feared will remain at bay until foolproof vaccines become available for everyone.