The University of Ilorin (Unilorin) is currently leading the race to make a breakthrough in production of the first ever vaccine for Coronavirus (COVID-19).

In a bulletin issued on Monday, the school said that a team of medical experts and scientists led by Prof. Mathew Kolawale of Medical Virology, is working on the project.

According to the University, the Kolawale-led research team had developed three viable proposals for research on various aspects of the Coronavirus.

Kolawole, who is the Director of the University’s Institute of Molecular Science and Biotechnology (IMSB), said this includes the molecular epidemiology surveillance for COVID-19 as well as a prototype for the detection of COVID-19.

“Proposals have been written by me and some of my research team,” he said.

“One is on the development of a vaccine; another has to do with molecular epidemiology surveillance for COVID-19, and the third has to do with developing a prototype for case detection.

The prototype will hopefully be ready by next week for a pre-test. Once it is ready and fine, we will be seeking for funds.”

The IMSB Director pointed out that to develop the prototype for case detection, he and his team of researchers had been using their personal funds.

“I have used my personal funds, and members of my team have also contributed personal funds to develop the prototype and this is the bane of research in Nigeria.

“Ideas are there but when you don’t have funds you can do nothing. I want to use this channel to appeal to the government to give us money, as there is the capacity to do more if research is funded,” he said.

According to the expert in Viral diseases, ASUU is on strike and they are yet to receive salary for February and March, adding that he has been working and spending his money on research.

“If I can do this it shows the passion and level of commitment I have for research,” he said.

Kolawole recalled that he was the first to report the Coronavirus in Nigeria in 2017, adding that if his work had been taken seriously, Nigeria would have been better prepared to combat COVID-19.

“I was the first to report Coronavirus – OC229E/NL63 in Nigeria in 2017, and it is a strain of the Coronavirus family – not COVID-19. “If the Nigerian government had taken heed at that time they would have put much in place before COVID-19 came.

“The research was funded with international partners in the U.S. with a grant from the National Science Foundation, but I was the one that did the local research,” he said.

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