Lassa fever: Why researchers are yet to get vaccine — Expert

A Medical Researcher, Prof. Rosemary Audu, says a 2018 research study revealed that no fewer than 40 per cent of people with Lassa fever, earlier treated and discharged, were still excreting the virus.
Audu, also a Director of Research at the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research, Yaba, Lagos, made this known to the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.
She explained that this was one of the major reasons why researchers have not been able to develop vaccine for Lassa fever.
She said: “In a study we did here (NIMR) in 2018, we collected samples from people who have been treated and recovered from Lassa fever and we discovered that some of them still excreted the virus.
“We collected their semens, 11 breast milk, urine and high virginal swap, and we discovered that some of them excreted the virus through urine and breast milk, meaning they can still transmit it.
“So, we still need to understand this virus very well before we can come up with a possible vaccine; it is not easy, but it is do able.”
Audu, also the Head of Department, Microbiology Department in NIMR, said studies on vaccine would entail massive research works.
She said a thorough research work would increase the possibility of coming up with a vaccination against Lassa fever virus.
She said: “Obviously, vaccine studies are things we need to do, but before embarking on a vaccine study on Lassa fever, we need to understand the virus very well.
“We need to do more of research works to answer a lot of questions before we can come up with a vaccine to control the virus.
“But right now, we don’t have a lot of information.”
Audu, however, advised health workers to practice infection control and prevention methods in order to protect themselves against the virus.
“Some health workers are careless while handling patients, so taking adequate precautions will help to avoid the needless deaths,” the expert said.
On the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus in China, which had spread to many other countries, Audu said the Federal Government was doing more against any eventuality.
According to her, the institute has also put measures in place to screen any suspected samples that comes in.
She said: “The Federal Government is already playing its part and they are at alert; we are prepared in NIMR.
“Aso, our virus surveillance team are ready to swing into action.
“Our positive control room is functioning well; we are ready to screen any sample coming to determine whether it is Coronavirus or not.”