COVID-19: Again, Ayade As The Reference Point



By Christian Ita

As a student in the University of Ibadan, Ben Ayade now Sir Ben Ayade, the Governor of Cross River State, was the poster boy of his department owing to his academic brilliance.

Indeed, in the words of a former course mate, no one could hold a candle to him. He was in his own world; unchallenged.

Today, as a state governor  Ayade, is still exhibiting an amazing level of intelligence which has seen him become a pacesetter in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

He is clearly ahead of his time and masterfully  blessed with sound fecundity. He shows salutary class and exceptional leadership to the admiration of the nation.

This renowned professor of Environmental Microbiology has just received another validation on his postulations on how to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.

In the words of an American author and public speaker, Leo Buscaglia," the easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be.”

The Buscaglia's words perfectly find expression in Professor Ayade.

Thus, in the wake of COVID-19, all of Ayade's discourses on ways to contain the ravaging virus have been met with emphatic validation either by the Federal Government of Nigeria or the World Health Organisation, WHO, and even countries around the globe, thus conferring deserving firsts on him.

The latest of such endorsements is coming from Health Minister, Dr. Osagie Ehanire.

Two months ago, Professor Ayade had insisted that vaccines for the virus could be produced from the antibodies of victims who recovered  from the pandemic.

Now, the Federal Government through Dr. Ehanire says its research work is focused exactly on that as the world races to find a cure for the virus.

The Minister who spoke on Sunday disclosed that the Federal Government was working on a research, using plasma from the blood of recovered Coronavirus patients to treat people infected with the virus.

Ehanire: “It is believed that persons who suffered COVID-19 and have recovered will have antibody inside their plasma, which can be used to treat others.

“It can be used to treat others who are not able to build anti body fast enough or those who are suffering from severe form of the virus.

“Yes, our research centres are participating in looking at what advantages and benefits can come out of convalescent plasma.

“I have seen this particular research in Lagos; it is part of what will be studied and the result will be published. So research is going on it.’’

This tallies with governor Ayade's views back in April: "It would sound very controversial but you should know that I am talking from a sound intellectual and scientific background. The virus itself, the test method itself, the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction)  test method is an unreliable method and is never to be used for diagnostic purpose but genomic sequencing, for just research purposes. But the PCR is being used, test kits are being produced. Test kits manufacturers are making cool money. If I test you and you are coronavirus positive, what do I do? There are no vaccines. There is no established approved international treatment protocol.

“However, you have also announced that some people have recovered. Those people who have recovered, why don’t you go and take their serum? Their serum shows that if they have recovered, it means they now have antibodies against the virus…… Let the serum undergo laboratory process and mass produce a vaccine. Why can’t the Federal Government put money in the research and production of that vaccine in Nigeria? We have professors of virology, intelligent Nigerian professors of virology lying waste in the universities.

“With the money you have now, you can set up a proper vaccine production plant, a first of its kind, a world-class vaccine.”

So, as it turns out, the cerebral governor was right and on point, yet again.

His handling of the COVID-19 pandemic is such that he has scored all round firsts in the areas of proactive measures to fight the virus.

To use the Nigerian parlance, other states in Nigeria, the Federal Government itself and even the international community have turned "borrow borrow".

The world has borrowed many of Ayade's ideas.

For example, to curtail the spread of the virus into Cross River, Ayade was the first governor to seal all entries and exits into his state.

He was also the initiator of the policy on "no masks no movement".

And long before masks made from fabrics became a global craze as opposed to the synthetic imported surgical masks, Ayade was the first to introduce its use, ordering the Cross River Garment Factory to mass produce  it and distribute free of charge to Cross Riverians.

This was at a time when the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the use of masks made from fabric was useless in stopping the spread of the virus.

The world health body was to chew on its words after further studies proved their initial position wrong.

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