Africa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic so far has been to sheepishly follow the West and perhaps China. Nothing suggests that will change. We have added little to nothing to the body of knowledge of the disease. Africa literally copies what happens elsewhere as demonstrated in the blanket declaration of lockdowns across the continent. But the truth is that we can do better. We are simply not pushing ourselves. And that is dangerous for our future.
In the entire conversations and actions on the COVID-19 pandemic across the continent, nothing is said about Africa developing a home-made vaccine for the disease. We are all praying and waiting for the West to come up with the drug that will end the pandemic. If that does not happen, then we are doomed. Our leaders have become so blinded to the possibility of the vaccine emanating from Africa. For them, and I dare say most of us, Africa cannot save the world from anything, at least not from COVID-19.
This moment presents Africa with a unique opportunity to rise and do something for the world; literally save the world. We can’t just sit and wait for a solution to be found elsewhere. What happens if the West does not find a solution or find one quickly and our current containment measures fail? The consequence is obvious. So why are we not devoting equal energy and resources to finding a drug that could cure this pandemic.
In Nigeria, billions are pouring in from the wealthy to help the country fight the disease. So how much of these monies are we devoting to supporting urgent research in the country to come up with a vaccine for COVID-19? This is a golden opportunity we have to do something special for the world. There are so many Molecular Biologists and other experts in Nigeria today who can be called upon and funded to work on coming up with a solution to the pandemic.
Can we therefore, as a matter of urgency, begin this process. We may eventually fail in coming up with a home-made vaccine but we could then beat our chest and say we tried. And the knowledge we would have gained would stand us in good stead for the future. We should also give our traditional medicine a chance as well. No aspect of medicine should be waved aside without trial in our desperate search for a cure for the pandemic.
What we cannot, and should not do is just sit and wait for a vaccine to come from abroad. This applies to other countries across Africa.
It’s time to show we are really serious about making a difference for humanity.