A medical microbiologist at the Lagos State University, Prof. Bola Oyefolu, says a pandemic can take more than two years before it is brought under control, rather than 10 years as projected by UK’s top geneticist, Prof. Sharon Peacock.
Peacock, on Thursday in an interview with BBC Network, asserted that the world might grapple with COVID-19 for 10 years to come; but Oyefolu said it was more of speculation.
“Typically, a pandemic can take more than two years before it is brought under control.
“With the global response in terms of technological development and science, I don’t think it will span 10 years. It is just a circle,” Prof. Oyefolu said.
This is even as a pulmonologist with the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Dr. Olusola Adeyelu, says no fewer than 150 million Nigerians must be inoculated with COVID-19 vaccine if the country wants to bring the virus under control.
Microbiology professor Oyefolu said that for any virus — whether B117 or other organism — to mutate, the variants coming out from an existing pathogen will usually be more virulent or pathogenic than the previous one.
Both experts were reacting to the Director of the United Kingdom’s genetic surveillance programme, Prof. Sharon Peacock’s warning that COVID-19 global pandemic might likely persist for about 10 years to come.
She says the new variant, christened B117 by scientists, and more infectious variant of the contagion first found in Britain would soon become the world’s dominant strain.
Peacock maintained that the variant, which has been detected in more than 51 countries, including Britain, is beginning to mutate again and getting new mutations.
Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, pulmonologist Adeyelu said that Prof. Peacock was scientifically right in her analysis. He, however, faulted her statement about how long the virus might last globally.
“It may not take up to 10 years as she presumed. But if it is true that Nigeria has a population of 200m as we projected, we may need to inoculate about 150m people to bring this virus under control.
“Only then can we start talking about boosting herd immunity in the populace. It is the only way to prevent infecting your spouse, children and parents,” he said
He called on Nigerians to brace up and accept the fact that COVID-19 has come to stay, just like any other disease.
“Once it is mutation, you cannot control where the variant will go. In simple term, it is not a case of ‘Slap me and expect me to turn the right cheek” as the scripture admonishes. No; a mutating variant is more virulent than that. When you slap it, it will blind you in retaliation rather than remaining dormant.
“We just have to continue protecting ourselves with the non pharmaceutical interventions put in place because the virus would continue to mutate.
“Let me give you a fact. The only role a virus plays is to mutate, whether it is challenged or not. It is moving in a milieu that it is not supposed to be found” Adeyelu stated.
Prof. Oyefolu reiterated that for any virus — whether B117 or other organism — to mutate, the variants coming out from an existing pathogen will usually be more virulent or pathogenic than the previous one.
“But within the pathogenicity of the virus is where lies its weakness. That is where to arrest it.
“Human activities on the existing pathogen (whether COVID-19 or any other) actually determines the evolution of a new variant. The reason is that these organisms, too, want to live. As you are dislodging them from a place, they are evolving into another.
“The single most threat to human domination on earth is the virus. The good thing is that it is not only limited to Africa. I think the government should be proactive by harping more on protection through the non pharmaceutical interventions,” Oyefolu said.
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