32 Universities Undertaking Research On COVID-19, Says NUC

32 Universities Undertaking Research On COVID-19, Says NUC

By Chika Mefor-Nwachukwu

The National Universities Commission (NUC) has revealed that a total of 32 universities in the country were carrying out research on solutions to the dreaded Coronavirus in the country.

The Executive Secretary of NUC, Abubakar Rasheed who was speaking during a press conference on the contributions of Nigerian universities to the national response to COVID-19 in Abuja stated that a compendium put together by the commission showed Nigerian universities are making tremendous contributions in tackling the impacts of COVID-19 on development using science, technology and innovation as tool.

Rasheed, who was represented by the deputy executive secretary Academics, Suleiman Yusuf, said that these contributions, including development of vaccines and immune boosting herbal product demonstrated how the Nigerian University System can be readily effective and relevant to national development if research is valued and adequately funded and the institutions provided with resources to motivate researchers and innovators, including students.

 “As in many other parts of the world, the pandemic has challenged our knowledge system, which has proved inadequate and insufficiently robust enough to respond to the challenges. Only a few institutions have been able to utilize open and distance learning systems to keep students engaged while the pandemic lasted and only a few laboratories continued with research and development activities.

 “Nonetheless, the few who engaged in research and innovation work have demonstrated the need for a well-funded and robustly organized national research and innovation system to catalyse the national response.

“The performance of the African Centers of Excellence, particularly the Center for the Genomics of Infectious Diseases at the Redeemer’s University, Ede in Sequencing SARS-CoV-2 virus, the collaborative development of vaccines with the University of Cambridge and as a pioneer national testing and screening centre and the other ACES in ABU, BUK, UNILAG, UNIBEN, UNIPORT and UNIJOS that also served as national testing and screening centres have proved that world-class Research and Development work is possible in Nigeria,” he said.

The Executive Secretary added that the commission is collating data from universities to assess their readiness for resumption of academic activities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

He revealed that the commission has urged vice chancellors in the nation’s universities to suggest guidelines that will ensure that students are safe when they return to school adding that the commission was in the process of collating the responses.

“We gave a template to vice-chancellors of all universities requesting them to suggest to us what kind of protocols and strategies they are putting in place in the various institutions. We are collecting some of the responses which have already started coming in and at the end of the day the picture should emerge about the extent to which our universities are prepared to reopen for academic activities,” he said.

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