The New HIV Vaccine and Microbicide Advocacy Society (NHVMAS) will like to make a public call to researchers who are designing and implementing COVID-19 related research, and ethics committee members in Nigeria who are reviewing COVID-19 related research, to adhere to research ethics guidelines for the conduct of research in Nigeria.
NHVMAS is aware that the SARS-CoV-2 infection causes COVID-19 is new and causing a highly transmittable infection with significant public health risk.
NHVMAS is also aware that research will need to be conducted during this pandemic to help understand the epidemiology, prevention, treatment and best care for those with COVID-19.
NHVMAS recognizes that like past epidemics, researchers will want to maximize the opportunities open to them during this pandemic to gather data and samples for the long-term
We therefore will like to call on all local researchers conducting or collaborating with international partners to conduct COVID-19 related research to note the following
- There is no emergency with research conduct at this time. Please ensure all COVID-19 related research and any other research seeks ethics clearance before commencement of any research. Please refer to the National Code of Health Research Ethics for Nigeria for guidance on details to be included in your research ethics protocol. Also refer to requirements of specific ethics committees that will be handling your research protocols for more specific details.
- Ethics committees designated to handle protocols of research that are of national relevance like COVID-19 related research, should also be willing to fast-track the review of these research protocols without compromising review standards. Where the protocol is technical, please refer to the National Health Research Ethics Committee for guidance. The World Health Organisation is willing to provide support for protocol reviews during periods of emergencies. Please take this offer where the need arise.
- Civil Society organizations contacted to help with community entry programs for the conduct of research should please ensure they read all the research protocol, sight ethics clearance certificates for the research protocol, and make appropriate suggestions to ensure communities are engaged not coerced into research participation. Physical distancing and all other precautions should be adhered too during the implementation of this research. Support all efforts to collect written informed consent.
- Health care providers should promote the privacy, confidentiality, care and welfare of all persons with COVID-19. All research that will recruit COVID-19 positive patients must ensure that institutional standard of practices for their treatment and care should be adhere too. While there is no international standard of care for COVID-19, please ensure that patients are not taken off care and treatment protocols that you have found to work in your institution for the purpose of research.
- The government should ensure that all COVID-19 related trials conducted in Nigeria include clauses that address post-trial access of developed products. This is an important clause that we as community members will hold our government accountable too.
NHVMAS shall continue to monitor the COVID-19 research space for unethical conduct of research. As gap keepers for ethical conduct of research in Nigeria, we once again encourage all researchers and research institutions in Nigeria to adhere to the National Code of Health Research Ethics for Nigeria.