Controversy Trails Discovery Of Covid-19 Drug In Unizik

Raymond Ozoji, Awka

It has been widely circulated on the social media that Covid-19 drug has been discovered in Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka Anambra state, which to all intents and purposes is a plus to the fight against the dreaded coronavirus pandemic.

The said Covid-19 drug which was discovered by Prof. Ikemefuna Uzochukwu of the department of pharmaceutical and medicinal chemistry, faculty of pharmaceutical sciences, seems to raise dust as investigations reveal that the university management has dissociated itself from such claims .

An inside source from the  University who pleaded anonymity told NewsProbe that the university was not aware of such discovery and that the person did not have the blessings of the management to conduct such research, let alone producing a cure for the novel Covid-19.

The source said , “There is no official statement to that effect and the school did not give him approval to publish that and he has not done clinical trial and claims to have found a cure. A cure based on hypothesis. A cure based on computer software.”

NewsProbe also gathered that the university authority may come up with an official statement on the purported discovery of Covid-19 drug in the university on Monday next week but in the meantime, it is not aware of such invention in the institution.

Meanwhile, Prof.Uzochukwu who spoke to NewsProbe in an interview, affirmed that he discovered Covid-19 drug through series of investigations which he started in February.

He explained, “What we did was to activate computer aided drug design platform on February 28. So we have been working since then and on 26th April we began to publish our findings. So we looked at other drugs that are in current use for other diseases to see if any of them could be used also for Covid-19 treatment.

“We also looked at things that are found in plants; those that have activities against viruses,whether any of them could help kill the Covid-19 virus.We also did molecular modifications of some compunds to give us expected design.”

The university don maintained that his research has produced what he described as a goldmine for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19 but according to him, the major challenge is the financial implications for the clinical trials and other processes to launch the drug into the market.

Uzochukwu noted that the facilities for other protocols to ascertain the validity and potency of the Covid-19 drug were not readily available at Nnamdi Azikiwe University where he works but pointed out that a conservative estimate of the financial involvement to introduce the drug into the market is about N50 million depending on the approach applied as he believes also that it could amount to $1billion before it eventually hits the market.

He however stated that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has been notified of the new Covid-19 drug and hopes that the management of Nnamdi Azikiwe University would support the novel idea to enable the drug to take its rightful position in the market to help in the prevention, treatment and cure for the deadly contagious coronavirus.

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