Meet Nigerian Medical Doctor Leading Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

2020-07-30 Clinical stock imagery

Africans have since time immemorial travelled far and wide in search of pastures greener. This search for betterment and greatness has seen many hitting remarkable achievements and a place in the sands of time.

The beauty of history is that it never forgets those who makes it glossy, like it never forgives those who make it rough. However, those that stay on its good side will always be remembered for the quality of their efforts.

Africans have always stood up to be counted in every field of human endeavour; from the arts to the sciences, to the business world where some sons and daughters of the continent have maintained a clean streak of greatness.

Amid many who have written their name in the sands of time is a Nigerian-trained medical doctor leading the world’s charge to a better health.

COVID-19 Hero

The realities of COVID-19 have struck every country of the world badly. The world has not been the same ever since the disease announced itself, as nations battle for survival amid an enemy that threatens to ground the world to a halt.

Stoic to their responsibilities to provide better lives for many, some researchers and companies have sought solutions- most expectedly a vaccine to help against the prevention of Coronavirus. Where this solution has been most highly recognised and remarked, an African is at its centre.

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Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu, a Nigerian Associate Professor of the Yale University is leading trials for vaccines Pfizer and BioNTech have reported to have an over 90% efficacy.

The world heaved a sigh of relief for a moment when Pfizer made the announcement and Dr. Ogbuagu told ABC News that the “scientific community has run out of emojis” to describe how happy they feel with the new achievement.

Who’s Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu?

A graduate of the College of Medicine, University of Calabar, South-south Nigeria, he’s one of the twin sons of two Professors – Chibuzo Ogbuagu, a former vice-chancellor of Abia State University, and Stella Ogbuagu, a professor of sociology.

Ogbuagu spent part of his early childhood in Connecticut, United States before heading back to Nigeria for his university education.

After graduation from UNICAL, the medical doctor interned at the Ebonyi State University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Nigeria.

From there, he proceeded to intern at Mount Sinai School of Medicine (Elmhurst), New York where he rose to become chief resident at the same school. He soon became a fellow of Infectious Diseases, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.

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A clinician-educator track and Director of the HIV Clinical Trials program of the Yale AIDS Program, Section of Infectious Diseases of the Yale School of Medicine, Ogbuagu described his work to 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.

He has trained track of the Yale-Internal Medicine primary care program. For more than 6 years as a faculty of the Human Resources for Health program in Rwanda, he has had extensive experience with curriculum development, structuring of residency training programs, and mentoring residents and faculty.

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

Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu

As program director of World Bank and HRSA, he funded efforts supporting the Liberia College of Physicians and surgeons (LCPS), where he ran Internal medicine residency training program. Dr. Ogbuagu has also overseen the selection and deployment of faculty to Liberia, and is responsible for educational programs and activities aimed at strengthening the residency training program.

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He’s on the forefront in the prevention of HIV/AIDS and has worked as the Director of the Yale AIDS Program HIV clinical trials program.

He’s the 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.

What has brought Dr. Ogbuagu, an African child, to the limelight is his service to the world, where he leads successful trial of Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine against COVID-19.

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