The Nigerian-American researcher and medical doctor, Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu, has said Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will eradicate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ogbuagu, at a virtual series on the theme, ‘COVID-19: Vaccine, Hesitancy, Myths and Reality,’ organised by Nigeria in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) in partnership with Ngex at the weekend, said the vaccine “will be the final nail in the coffin” for the virus that has killed over 1.6 million people worldwide.

He also dismissed concerns that the vaccine would alter deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

Pfizer and BioNTech had announced that the first vaccine they developed against COVID-19 could prevent more than 90 per cent of people from getting infected.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the vaccine for public use, adding that the authorisation is a “significant milestone” in the pandemic.

He said: “I think that issue of vaccine hesitancy is not new. It’s been an issue that has played us for a long time. In fact, I think the World Health Organisation (WHO) at some point had listed vaccine hesitancy as one of the greatest threats to global health.

“I think if we just think about historically the role that vaccine has played, with either eradicating diseases, near eradicating diseases or even the year-to-year advantages, there have always been individuals that have been concerned about what vaccines are and there are a lot of misconceptions around the harms or the potential harms vaccine caused.”

Ogbuagu said in the specific case of COVID-19 vaccines, one of the concerns has been about the accelerated process or timelines.

He explained: “I want to flag vaccine hesitancy as a serious threat for us. The punch line I would say is the thinking that COVID-19 vaccine would be one of the approaches that really hosts the greatest promise.

“You can wear a mask and maintain social distance; we know how difficult it is to maintain some of that for a long period of time and those don’t really get rid of the disease itself. I think that the vaccine will be the final nail in the coffin for COVID-19. So, we have a solution to the problem; let’s not introduce a problem to the solution.”

He explained further: “Messenger mRNA vaccine does not enter the nucleus; they don’t incorporate into the host DNA and so they should be no concerns about it altering human genomes. It does not alter DNA; it doesn’t make you a zombie; it doesn’t alter your genetic makeup and we don’t expect any interference with that.”