Nigeria comes to the international limelight again, on a positive note, as the World Health Organization (WHO) appoints Professor Oyewale Tomori, a Nigerian professor of virology and former vice-chancellor of the Redeemer’s University, Ede, to serve as a member of the World Health Organisation’s Technical Advisory Group on COVID-19 vaccine composition.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the WHO explained the importance of the Technical Advisory Group, stating that it is an independent group of experts who will periodically review the evidence and analyse the implications of emerging variants of concerns on the performance of COVID-19 vaccines.
According to the statement, “During those global consultations, the WHO and partners have noted the urgent needs for shared access to information, coordination, and prioritisation, as well as joint action and supported the call for the development of a global risk monitoring and assessment framework that elaborates decision-making processes, triggers for such decision making, and stakeholder roles and responsibilities.”
Why this is important
Following the mutations that are producing different strains and variants of the coronavirus, from the Alpha Variant, the Beta, Gamma, and the latest Delta Variant, it has become a priority for there to exist a body of individuals who are virologists and who can better understand or decipher to an extent, the source of different strains, their mutations and what their short to long term effect on the country or the global economy could be.
One of the objectives of the group is to make recommendations to WHO based on methods to assess the impact of each of the 4 variants or emerging variants of concern on vaccines.
The published statement by the WHO states, “the group is to make recommendations to WHO on the methods to assess the impact of the variants of concerns on vaccines; provide interpretation of available evidence on the effect of variants of concerns on vaccines, including but not limited to vaccine effectiveness and recommend to WHO, for each COVID-19 vaccine platform, adaptations (if any) needed so that vaccines continue to safely provide WHO-recommended levels of protection against variants of concerns.”
According to the statement, other members are, Dr Supamit Chunsuttiwat, who is an advisor, Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health Thailand, Cheryl Cohen a professor in epidemiology at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, Professor Thomas Fleming, a member of the Scientific Steering Committee for the WHO Solidarity COVID-19 Vaccines Trial, David Goldblatt, a Professor of Vaccinology and Immunology and Dr Ziad Memish, a Senior Infectious Disease Consultant.