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Nigerian doctor leads COVID-19 vaccine research team in US



THE United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted US regulators the emergency use of the experimental drug Remdesivir, an antiviral vaccine which has now been found to be effective in treating COVID-19 patients.

  At the heart of the United States efforts to find a vaccine for COVID-19 is Dr. Babafemi Taiwo, a Nigerian-born doctor who played a leading role in the development of the Remdesivir and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical trial of the vaccine, which has helped some COVID-19 patients recover faster.

  Dr Taiwo is Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago. He is also Director, Clinical Core of the Third Coast Center for AIDS Research, and Leader of the Northwestern University Site of the NIAID-funded AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG).

  At Northwestern University, he leads clinical and translational HIV researchers from infectious diseases, hepatology, neurology, radiology, cardiology and nursing, and directs the development and implementation of NIH-sponsored interventional and observational HIV studies. 

  Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) oversaw the study on 1,063 patients in the US, Europe and Asia to test the effectiveness of the antiviral vaccine.

  “The data shows that Remdesivir has a clear-cut significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci.

  “It is a very important proof of concept because what it is proving is that a drug can block this virus,” Fauci added. “The mortality rate trended towards being better in the sense of fewer deaths in the Remdesivir group – 8 percent versus 11 percent in the placebo group. It has not reached statistical significance but the data needs to be further analyzed.” 

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  Before now, Dr. Taiwo, a graduate of the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, has recorded successes researching on HIV, leading him to winning the John Carey Young Investigator Award in 2009. He was specifically recognised for the award for his contributions to research on HIV resistance and management of co-infections.

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