Nigeria COVID-19 Research Coalition (NCRC) was established on 3rd April 2020 to generate research evidence to aid understanding of the COVID-19 and support Nigeria’s response to the current outbreak. The NCDC, Federal Ministry of Health, research institutes and agencies, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Tetfund), and National Universities Commission (NUC) partnered to establish a Nigeria COVID -19 Research Coalition (NCRC).
To generate research evidence that will provide knowledge about COVID –19
To deliver high-quality research that is relevant locally and globally.
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The goal of Nigeria Covid-19 Research Coalition (NCRC) is to provide a national platform for coordinating R&D for COVID-19 in Nigeria in line with the WHO roadmap.
- Identify national research priorities for COVID-19 in line with the WHO research roadmap
- Develop a 5-year National COVID-19 Research Agenda with identified priorities
- Identify human and material resources across the country for the implementation of the National Agenda
- Implement the national research agenda for COVID-19
Although the current Covid-19 pandemic started in Asian countries, notably in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, in late December 2019, the epicentre has shifted to European and North America countries with an increase in the number of reported cases in African countries, including Nigeria.
By the morning of 14th April 2020, World Health Organization (WHO) reported that there were a total of 1,844,863 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 117,021 deaths globally, of which African countries accounted for 10,787 confirmed and 501 deaths.1 In Nigeria, there were 343 cases of confirmed Covid-19 and 10 deaths during this period.
This increasing Covid-19 burden and changing trajectory is indeed a wakeup call for Africa to develop its own research evidence to inform the prevention and control of this pandemic.
Historically, African countries are prone to rapid and widespread of new infectious diseases, such as Ebola, given the weak health system and competing demands for limited resources.
Concerns have also been raised over Africa’s capacity to build a robust surveillance system for both asymptomatic and symptomatic patients, manage the high number of patients who will require hospitalisation, sometimes in the intensive care unit, and, equally important, protect the vulnerable populations both from Covid-19 and from the secondary adverse economic and social impacts from control measures (e.g. lockdown).
Currently, African countries, through the African CDC, African Union and the WHO, are spearheading initiatives against the Covid-19 pandemic, of which the Africa Task Force for Novel Coronavirus (AFCOR) is one. The AFCOR, for instance, is mandated to use context- specific evidence to oversee preparedness and response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Africa. However, a potential limitation of this approach is its tendency to develop generic evidence to efficiently aid individual country’s response to Covid-19 epidemic, given diversity in sociocultural and economic profiles. As such, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), with the mandate of preparing and responding to infectious diseases of public health importance in the country, will benefit from locally generated research evidence in delivering its mandates.
The WHO’s global research roadmap for the Covid-19 epidemic, from a 2-day 300-expert meeting, has identified nine thematic areas: (1) natural history, transmission, and diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 virus; (2) animal and environmental research on the virus origin, and management measures at the human-animal interface; (3) epidemiological studies; (4) clinical characterization and management; (5) infection prevention and control; (6) research and development on candidate therapeutics; (7) research and development on candidate vaccines; (8) ethical considerations for research and; (9) integration of social sciences in the outbreak response.
In response to the above research thematic areas, the NCDC, Federal Ministry of Health, research institutes and agencies, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Tetfund), and National Universities Commission (NUC) have partnered to establish a Nigeria Covid-19 Research Coalition (NCRC), with a primary focus on contextualising the aforementioned research thematic areas, while integrating innovation.