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News - Special News - Thematterspress - November 25, 2020

Nigeria celebrates scientist in Pfizer’s covid-19 vaccine team


Tanko Mohammed

Praises have continued to pour for American-based Nigerian, Dr Onyema Ogbuagu of Yale University, one of those involved in Pfizer’s successful Covid-19 vaccine.

Ogbuagu, an infectious Disease Specialist, with more than 17 years of experience after graduating from University of Calabar Medical School in Nigeria in 2003 is affiliated to medical facilities Midstate Medical Centre and Yale New Haven Hospital.

The United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria on November 23, 2020 commended Ogbuagu for his role in the development of COVID-19 vaccine.

The mission also noted the contributions of numerous Nigerians to the world in diverse fields of endeavours.

“Nigerians contribute to the world in so many ways. Our hats off to Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu at Yale who helped develop a COVID-19 vaccine!” the Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria, said.

The Special Assistant to the President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Media, Mrs Lauretta Onochie, in a tweet noted that Ogbuagu and his twin brother, Chibuzo, were part of the thousands of successful youth she taught in primary school.

Onochie said Ogbuagu and Chibuzo, and other students she taught, have made her really proud of her work.

In an exchange with Ogbuagu, Onochie tweeted: “You, Chibuzo and the rest have made me really proud. My reward as a teacher and later as a lecturer, is right here on earth seeing the way you all have turned out brilliantly. I’m extremely proud of you.”

In Ogbuagu’s response to Onoche, he said: “Amazing! Nice to see you again virtually! I do remember those days in primary school fondly and how much we enjoyed your teaching.”

Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia state also commended the Ogbuagu as an indigene of Abia in South East Nigeria for being the “leading light’’ on the newly found vaccine.

Ikpeazu said: “I am not surprised that this twin son of Prof Chibuzo Ogbuagu who himself was a former Vice Chancellor of Abia State University, Uturu (ABSU) and a former Secretary to Abia State Government (SSG), was among those who led the team that discovered the now celebrated vaccine which will certainly save millions of lives especially now that a second wave of the disease is already ravaging parts of the world.

Ikpeazu said he would continue to celebrate such rare feats achieved by people of Abia state everywhere to serve as motivation for others to embrace dedication and thrive in whatever lawful field of endeavour they choose in life.

The COVID-19 pandemic has unsettled the world, crippling economies and hardship to people and leading to the death of more than 1.3 million people.

In almost one year race to get a vaccine to solve the problem, Pfizer and BioNTech finally announced that the first vaccine they developed against COVID-19 could prevent more than 94.5 percent successful having been tested
on 43,500 people in six countries.

Pfizer reports that it would be able to supply 50 million doses by the end of 2020, and around 1.3 billion by the end of 2021, a success story in which Ogbuagu, an associate professor of medicine played a key role.

Ogbuagu, a twin whose second, Chibuzo, is an engineer, are children Prof. Chibuzo Ogbuagu, a former Vice-Chancellor of Abia State University, and Stella Ogbuagu, a professor of sociology.

After graduating in medicine at the University of Calabar in 2003 he had his intern at the Ebonyi State University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki also in Nigeria before he proceeded for o intern at Mount Sinai School of Medicine (Elmhurst), New York.

He had six years’ working experience in a faculty of the human resources for health programme in Rwanda addressing important infectious diseases-related problems (particularly HIV/AIDS and antimicrobial resistance).

He was the programme director of the World Bank and HRSA-funded efforts supporting the Liberia College of Physicians and Surgeons (LCPS)–run internal medicine residency training programme, where he oversaw the selection and deployment of faculty to Liberia.

He worked for five years as director of the Yale HIV clinical trials programme, and a principal investigator on numerous pharmacokinetic.

Ogbuagu became a fellow, American College of Physicians in 2015 and in 2017, he was a nominee for Charles W. Bohmfalk Award in Clinical Science, Yale University School of Medicine and won the Steve Huot Faculty Award for Dedication and Excellence, Yale University School of Medicine Internal Medicine Primary Care programme.

In 2019, Ogbuagu was awarded the Gerald H. Friedland award for outstanding international research.

In 2020, he emerged as a nominee for Charles W. Bohmfalk Award in Clinical Science, Yale University School of Medicine

Ogbuagu said the Pfizer vaccine would help people achieve immunity, and that it will be “the beginning of the end of the pandemic”.

He told ABC News that efforts are being made to assure the public of the vaccine’s safety as due process is being follow despite the speed in rolling out the vaccines.

“The vaccine would help us achieve immunity. This could be the beginning of the end of the pandemic. Preparations are made both on the government end and the distribution network, including Pfizer who is working to have the vaccine stored at low temperature,” he said.

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