Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Maurice Iwu, says he has identified a possible treatment of the novel Coronavirus which has claimed over 3,000 lives globally.
The COVID-19 virus, Iwu, a Professor of Pharmacognosy, claims is among the neglected tropical emergent diseases his research group has been studying for years.
Iwu made the disclosure while briefing the Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, who was in the company of the Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora and the Minister of State for Science and Technology, Mohammed Abdullahi in Abuja on Monday.
According to Iwu, who heads a bio-science institute, the US Government has reached out to him to take the discovered compound and test it against the COVID-19 virus.
“We have selected to focus on neglected tropical emergent diseases such as Leishmaniasis, Ebola virus, Dengue fever virus, Chikungunya virus, coronavirus, and Tacaribe virus.
“When the Ebola virus broke out in 2014, many Nigerians were surprised that we had an experimental lead compound that we identified in 1999.
“Now with the emergence of a novel coronavirus in 2019 as COVID 19, we have identified and patented a possible treatment back in 2015, it is very important that we must remain ahead of these emergent infections through research.
“On Thursday last week, the US Government contacted me and we signed a non-clinical evaluation agreement for us to take this product forward and we are trying to see how we can test this compound immediately against this new virus.
“They are trying set up so we can see if this particular one is inferior to SARS so that the programme will be able to go on,” he maintained.
Iwu added that he has concluded arrangements with the Anti-viral programme of the United Nations National Institute of Health to subject compounds from Nigerian plants against the virus.
“We are considering developing the three products together so they become the first broad-spectrum antiviral agent coming out of Nigeria.
“We want to plead with you to appeal to Nigerians for their support so that we can develop our own medicine and have medicine for coronavirus instead of waiting and using that from other places.
“We are willing to make available, the lead compound which we have isolated,” Iwu stated.