The National Universities Commission (NUC) says 32 federal, state and private universities in the country are involved in different stages of research toward tackling direct and collateral impacts of COVID-19.

According to NAN, Abubakar Rasheed, the executive secretary of the commission, broke the news at a briefing in Abuja on Tuesday.

Rasheed, who was represented by Suleiman Yusuf, his deputy, said the briefing was to examine the contribution of the Nigerian university system toward mitigating the impact of COVID-19.

“As at June 22, not less than 32 universities are involved in different stages of research aimed at galvanising research toward the development of vaccines and non vaccines,” he said.

“As in many other parts of the world, the pandemic has challenged our knowledge system, which has proved inadequate and insufficiently robust enough to respond to the challenges.

“Only few institutions have been able to utilise open and distance learning system to keep students engaged while the pandemic lasted and only few laboratories continued with research and development activities.

“Nonetheless, the few who engaged in research and innovation work have demonstrated the need for a well-funded and robustly organised national research and innovation system to catalyse the national response.”

The NUC executive secretary added that in the area of Genomic research, the African Centres of Excellence (ACE), particularly the Centre for the Genomics of Infectious Diseases at the Redeemer’s University in Ede, was collaborating with the University of Cambridge for the development of vaccines.

He noted that other ACEs in Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Universities of Lagos, Benin, Port Harcourt and Jos, which served as national testing and screening centres had proved that world-class research and development was possible in Nigeria.

He, therefore, added that the country’s university system could be readily effective and relevant to national development if the research was valued and adequately funded and the institutions provided with resources to motivate researchers and innovators including students.

On the current efforts of herbal remedies, Rasheed said the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari on herbal and natural products development was acknowledged, following Madagascar’s example.

He said such measure “will go a long way to motivate homegrown developments and innovation in science and technology by the NUC, including anti-COVID-19 human immunity-boosting foods.”

He also stressed the need for Nigeria to develop homegrown capabilities in the production and manufacture of the most basic medical and pharmaceutical products such as PPEs, WASH accessories, and ventilators.



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