Unijos develops first anti-snake venom vaccine

Vice Chancellor of the University of Jos, Prof. Seddi Maimako, has said the university through a researcher has developed the first ever anti-snake venom vaccine. The vaccine according to the vice chancellor is a work of over 20 years by Prof. John Aguiyi from the Department of Africa Centre of Excellence in Phyto-medicine, Research and Development (ACEPRD). Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Prof. Maimako said the vaccine known as COVIP-Plus is potent in tackling snake-bites to prevent or neutralise snake venom on its arrival into the human and animal tissue or blood. The vice chancellor who was represented by the researcher of the vaccine at the briefing, Prof. Aguiyi, said at present COVIP-Plus vaccine does not exist anywhere in the world apart from Nigeria.

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However, while answering questions from newsmen, the researcher said other anti-snake venoms presently available are not really vaccines, but anti-sera which induce the host to produce antibodies against specific pathogens. He said unlike other vaccines, COVIP-Plus already produces antibodies externally which makes its potency more effective and can last for 12 months in the body serving as anti-snake venom. Prof. Aguiyi said he was inspired by the problem of snake bites in Lafia, Nasarawa state, where he did his youth service and Shandam, Qua’anpan and Langtang area of Plateau state, where he had stints as a pharmacist.

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He added that he was bothered by the inadequacy in the treatment of snake bites in these areas and was therefore, curious to proffer solutions by harnessing the bio-resources around him as a trained pharmacologist. The university is however, calling on government to make funds available at enabling the mass production of the vaccine to arrest the problem of snake bites in the country and to also make it available for exports.

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