From Ismail IBRAHIM, Kano
Neptune Prime, with an ear always glued to the ground, learnt of a resourceful young veterinarian who did his PhD on the infectious bronchitis vaccine at Malaysia. It was said that the young chap is confident that he could produce a vaccine against Coronavirus and is currently calling for attention but no one wanted to give him a listening ear. We also learnt that Dr Bande and his team are in the process of reaching out to the Nigerian Senate.
Dr Faruk Bande. That’s him. The name sure doesn’t ring a bell but so does buried intellect until it bursts forth.
Curious, our reporter in Kano was charged to trace him for an interview. Ever publicity shy and (well, not reclusive) buried in his lab among test tubes, Bunsen Burners and all things that make a lab a lab, our reporter was able to come out with the following:
Neptune Prime: May we know you?
Dr Bande: My Name is Dr Faruku Bande, I hail from Yabo Local Government in Sokoto State. I am a Virologist by training and my research interest cut across molecular virology, immunology and vaccine development for both animals and humans.
NP: What disciplines did you study and where?
DrB: My first degree was veterinary medicine from Usmanu Danfodiyo University but I later pursued postgraduate trainings at Masters and PhD levels all in the field of virology (ie study about viruses) at the University of Putra, Malaysia in 2012 and 2015 respectively. I did my postdoctoral Research Fellowship as well at the same University.
NP: What is your place of work?
DrB: Well, I can say, I am on transit now as I recently secured an academic position as senior lecturer in Bayero University, Kano, under the new faculty of veterinary medicine which is to commence soon. But before this development, I was with the department of veterinary services, Ministry of Animal Health and Fisheries Development, Sokoto, where I served as the Head of Inspectorate of Veterinary Clinics and Disease Surveillance.
NP: What are you into now?
DrB: I am into disease control.
NP: Learnt you are onto a project that might produce the vaccine against Coronavirus. How did you come about it?
DrB: As you know more than 70% of emerging and re-emerging diseases of humans originates from animals, thus as a veterinarian and scientist, I felt interested in doing translational research that helps in solving problems affecting both humans and animals. This, I believe, is what One Health is all about. But in short, let me say this idea of CoViD vaccine came about from my past experience in developing DNA vaccine against Chicken Coronavirus as part of my PhD work.
NP: You and who are on it? (Doctors only or with pharmacists and other disciplines) and who is the lead (mother)?
DrB: The present proposal came about as a function of discussions and collaborations between different researchers from various biomedical fields as follows: my self as head of the team, Dr Muhammad Bashir Bello (Immunologist at Usmanu Danfodiyo, Sokoto); Dr Clement Meseko (Virologist at National Veterinary Research Institute, Vom, Jos, Plateu State); Dr Muhammad Muhammad Saleh (a medic and epidemiologist with American Centre for Disease Control i.e US NCDC). We also intend to bring on board, other partners from different disciplines within and outside the contry as you know CoViD19 is a global issue and all hands must be on deck to combat its menace.
NP: How far is your project now?
DrB: The project is at conceptualization stage now. We had several meetings and came up with the concept note. So I can say, we are fully in the know of what to do and how to do it when the right environment has been secured.
NP: How soon do you think the vaccines would be available?
DrB: As soon as possible.
NP: Are the vaccines going to be preventive or curative?
DrB: The aim of the vaccine is to stimulate the right immunity and protect the immunized subjects against contracting the disease. So I can say it is going to be of preventive purpose.
NP: What gives you confidence that it would work?
DrB: Lessons derived from other coronaviruses and the prelimenary findings about the virus itself..
NP: How are you coping with funds and tools, or are you okay?
DrB: It is difficult to say we have enough to produce the vaccine. However, we intend to follow up processess to enable us secure grants from government and partners in the health and possibly pharmaceutical industry. We hope that assistance will come at the right time so that CoViD vaccine will be actualized soon from our country.
It is my firm belief that this work will assist our people in getting out of this trouble. It will also present Nigeria as a regional as well as a global leader in solving mariad problems bedeviling human growth and sutainable development.
We also think it is a good time for Nigeria to utilize its vast human resources through the provision of the right infrastructures and grants which shall be channelled in local research and development. Let the lesson of this pandemic be a wake up call to all of us.
We thank you and other journalists for bringing this mission to light and hope; together we combat this deadly disease.
Surely, there is hope and the hope could come from this country.