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Meet graduate of Nigerian University who helped develop Covid-19 vaccine

Dr Onyema Ogbuagbu, a Nigerian doctor, has been identified as a key figure in the research that led United States pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, to develop the first effective COVID-19 vaccine.

The US mission in Nigeria tweeted about him while recognising great feats achieved by Nigerians all over the world.

Speaking in an interview on the vaccine, he said although doses will be unavailable to everyone at first, massive distribution was expected to take off in the first quarter of 2021.

Pfizer said it would launch a pilot in four states in the United States but there have been concerns as the vaccine needs to be stored at -94 degrees Fahrenheit (-70 degree Celsius), a challenge Ogbuagbu said would be overcome soon.

Ogbuagbu is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Infectious Disease Specialist at Yale School of Medicine, who graduated in 2003 from the University of Calabar with a degree in medicine.

Ogbuagbu is in the clinician-educator track and Director of the HIV Clinical Trials programme of the Yale AIDS Programme, Section of Infectious Diseases of the Yale School of Medicine.

His profile obtained from the website of Yale School of Medicine revealed that in response to the Covid pandemic, he was the Yale principal investigator on multiple investigational therapeutic and preventative clinical trials for Covid-19, including remdesivir (now FDA approved), leronlimab and remdesivir and tocilizumab combination therapy as well as the Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine trial.

He is one of the twin sons of Prof. Chibuzo Ogbuagbu former VC of ABSU and Abia SSG.

The Ogbuagbus were reported to have returned to Nigeria, where Onyeama studied medicine and then returned to Yale.

Ogbuagbu’s responsibilities at Yale include educating and training medical students, residents and infectious diseases fellows in various capacities in inpatient and outpatient settings; and through structured course work and other teaching sessions.

As a faculty of the HIV training track of the Yale-Internal Medicine primary care programme and for over six years as a faculty of the Human Resources for Health program in Rwanda, he has extensive experience with curriculum development, structuring of residency training programmes, and mentoring residents and faculty.

In Rwanda, specifically, he mentored medical residents and junior faculty in quality improvement and clinical research projects that were locally relevant and addressing important infectious diseases-related problems (particularly HIV/AIDS and antimicrobial resistance).

In addition, Ogbuagbu has facilitated meaningful educational and research collaborations between faculty and trainees across institutions.

As the programme director of World Bank and HRSA-funded efforts supporting the Liberia College of Physicians and Surgeons (LCPS)-run Internal medicine residency training programme, he oversaw the selection and deployment of faculty to Liberia, and was responsible for educational programmes and activities aimed at strengthening the residency training programme.

Overall, his expertise and collective experiences to date have seen him design and run successful projects around capacity building in low-resource settings, including developing and implementing innovative and robust medical training and research programmes for faculty, fellows, residents and students.

For five years running, he has been the director of the Yale AIDS Programme, HIV clinical trials programme, and a principal investigator on numerous pharmacokinetic, phase 2 and 3 safety and efficacy trials of novel antiviral compounds (HIV).

Ogbuagbu is also a lead investigator on the international DISCOVER trial evaluating TAF/FTC vs TDF/FTC for HIV prevention among MSM and transgender women.

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