The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, on Thursday, said investigational drug trials would soon start in 22 sites scattered across 13 states of the federation.

The task force’s National Coordinator, Sani Aliyu, said this during a press briefing by the task force.

Aliyu said 22 sites cutting across 13 states of the federation had been approved for the exercise.

He did not name the states but explained that all necessary regulatory approvals had already been secured for the trials.

He stated, “As you are aware Nigeria, has registered for the WHO solidarity trials which are a multi-country trial where the standard of care in the country is compared against some investigational drugs such as Remdesivir, Interferon-Beta and monoclonal antibody.

“This is in a bid to get the best drugs to cure COVID 19. So far 22 sites from 13 states have been registered for the trial and the necessary regulatory approvals from NAFDAC, and the National Health Research Ethics Committee has been secured. The trial will soon commence.”

He said the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research and other tertiary institutions “have been actively involved in  pursuing research in accordance with their mandates of establishment as soon the COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organisation.”

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said Nigeria had so far tested 366,244 persons.

He said among those who tested positive, male preponderance remained high, with more infections in the age group below 50 years, but more fatalities in the higher age brackets and among the vulnerable.

The task force’s Chairman, Boss Mustapha, disclosed that 14 out of the 985 COVID-19 deaths so far recorded in the country were medical doctors.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said the best tribute that could be paid to the deceased was for Nigerians to follow guidelines and avoid further fatalities.

He said, “This morning, Nigerians woke up to the stark reality that our confirmed cases of COVID-19 have crossed the 50,000 mark standing at 50,488 and a death toll of 985, bringing us close to the unenviable record of 1,000 fatalities.

“Fourteen of those that paid the supreme sacrifice were doctors who toiled daily to save lives. The most edifying tribute and respect we can pay to these people is to do the basic minimum in avoiding such fatalities.”

<<Punch>>