NIGERIAN laboratory the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (Acegid) has joined the global race to find a coronavirus vaccine under a joint partnership with Cambridge University in the UK.
As of today, 2.85m people have been infected by the deadly virus, leading to 198,096 deaths in 210 countries worldwide. So far, despite the fact that scientists are working round the clock, they are yet to come up with either a vaccine or a cure for the deadly virus that has been the most lethal global pandemic since the Spanish Flu of 1918.
Joining in the fight to find a remedy, Acegid, located at Redeemer University in Ede, Osun State, is collaborating with Cambridge University to come up with a vaccine. Acegid, a private laboratory, which is a strategic partner of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), is responsible for all Covid-19 testing in Kwara State and the southwest geo-political zone states except Lagos.
Coordinating the project at the centre is Christian Happi, a professor of molecular biology and genomics, who is the laboratory’s director. He leads a team of 21 African researchers and vaccine developers in the race toward the production of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Professor Happi’s journey to the peak of molecular biology and genomics study started modestly in 1992 at the University of Yaounde, Cameroon, where he completed a bachelor’s degree and then proceeded to Nigeria where he took masters and doctoral degrees at the University of Ibadan. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the famed Harvard University School of Public Health in the US, Professor Happi worked as a research scientist for three years at the same institution from 2004 and became an adjunct professor between 2007 and 2011.
He is currently a visiting professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology of the same university. Professor Happi confirmed the diagnosis of the first case of the ebola virus disease in Nigeria in 2014 and worked closely with Nigerian health authorities for the successful containment of the virus.
Professor Happi recently used next generation sequencing technology to perform the first sequence of the new SARS-CoV-2 in Africa, within 48 hours of receiving a sample of the first case in Nigeria. He has also worked with his collaborators to develop a novel five minutes rapid diagnosis test for Lassa fever.