By Ayo Kehinde
Prof Oyewole Tomori
Prof Oyewole Tomori, a renowned Nigerian Virologist and a former President, Nigeria Academy of Sciences, has called on the Federal Government to decentralise the operations of the Presidential Task Force PTF operations to local levels where the grassroots can participate knowingly in the management and treatment of the disease.
According to him, “COVID can be defeated only when citizens own the fight”.
He also urged the Federal Government to put necessary infrastructure in place before embarking on the importation of vaccines, saying that without motorable roads, regular electricity supply and the enlightenment of Nigerians on the reality and prevalence of COVID-19, nothing much can be achieved.
He said; ” We need a stronger people-centred COVID fight. Stopping school reopening is not a solution as students cannot be kept out of school for so long and students are part of the Community that have already being infected/”
He suggested the urgent establishment of Community Corps COVID Health Marshals CCCHM in all the 774 local councils in the country as the first step in improving the risk communications strategy in the COVID fight in Nigeria”, he concluded
Also taking a look into the controversy surrounding the efficacy of Coronavirus Vaccines, the learned virologist said they would not eradicate crisis
Nigeria has reportedly voted N450 billion to buy the Pfizer vaccines for the vaccination of about 0 million out its 200 million estimated population. The vaccine is expected in the country between end of January and February, 2021.
For Tamori, however, the expectation the vaccines would cure the coronavirus disease is mistaken.
“The 200 Billion Naira vaccine will not eradicate COVID as there is an astonishingly high level of trust deficit by the Nigerian people on COVID, resulting in vaccine apathy by a vast majority of the people”
Instead, the Virology Professor advocated intensive risk communications down to rural areas as was done for Polio vaccination even though it was earlier resisted too.
According to him, there is need to close infrastructure deficit in the country, especially power, that is crucially needed for storage at -10 centigrade of the Vaccines
Another area he mentioned is good road network particularly to rural and riverine areas, where majority of Nigerians live.
He advised the Federal Government to put on hold the importation of vaccines until infrastructural sanity is achieved and Nigerians achieve a reasonable level of trust on COVID-19. As a way out for now, even with the coming of the vaccines, enforceable COVID measures are desperately needed, as, according to him, vaccination do not totally eradicate the virus. Even with vaccines, masks are compulsory, he concluded