UniJos develops snake antivenom

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Vice Chancellor of the University of Jos, Professor Sebastian Maimako, says an anti-snake bite venom vaccine known as COVIP-Plus has been developed by its team of researchers.

Speaking, yesterday, at a press conference in the university’s senate chamber, Maimako said the anti-snakebite vaccine is the first of its kind in the world, and that it was developed after 24 years of intensive research by the team at the African Centre of Excellence in Phytomedicine Research Development (ACEPRD) in the university.

Represented by ACEPRD Director, Professor John Aguiyi, the VC said the anti-snake chemical was developed from the seed of a plant traditionally used by the Rukuba people of Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State.

He said the new anti-venom vaccine is applicable to both man and animals without any adverse effects.


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“An essential approach to tackling snake bite is to prevent or neutralize snake venom on its arrival at human and animal tissue or blood and this requires a prophylactic agent or a vaccine.

“At present, such a vaccine against snake bite venom does not exist; COVIP-Plus is an anti-venom vaccine. It derives from the seed of a plant traditionally used by the Rukuba people of Bassa in Plateau State, Nigeria, to prevent snake bite 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 accordance with the standard of the World Health Organization (WHO) and to make the product a globally certified and accepted vaccine in the world, though it is capital intensive.

“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,” he said

The VC called for more robust partnerships with international organizations for the production of the vaccine in large quantity for the treatment of snake bite.

He called on government through the Ministry of Health to ensure the product gets to the people easily. The product will be sold for between N5,000 and N10,000, but the price is expected to crash, it was learnt.


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