NIMR and the Battle to Control COVID-19 in Nigeria

In March 2020, NIMR in collaboration with Life Bank and other partners/sponsors established the Nigeria’s first modified drive-and-walk-through COVID-19 testing Centre. The institute also partnered with Mobihealth to launch a Do-It-Yourself swab sampling process to raise awareness and increase the number of COVID-19 tests per day. Throughout the year 2020, NIMR was involved in providing laboratory back up for hospitals in Lagos State to do the Coronavirus testing. All these efforts were geared towards making it easier for people to get tested and curb the spread of COVID-19 disease.

NIMR in collaboration with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and other partners carried out household seroprevalence surveys in Lagos, Enugu, Sokoto, Delta, Nasarawa and Gombe States. These surveys were conducted between September and October 2020 and were designed to better estimate the burden of COVID-19 infection in the country and provide a more detailed estimate of the extent of infection with the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus in the country. In its collaboration with Co-Creation Hub (CCHub), the institute developed and deployed a web-based application to collect accurate and high-quality data needed for the surveillance of real-time trends in the COVID-19 incidence rate, care-seeking behavior, testing, contact tracing, planning, and the making of informed prognostications on case management among Nigerians.

Scientists working at the institute conducted over fifty-five COVID-19 related studies in 2020 from which they conceptualized and developed translational biotechnological products used in COVID-19 testing. Three products of research were launched by the research institute and they include;

  • The NIMR Biotech RNA Purification Kit, developed by NIMR Scientist, Dr. Muinat Fowora. It is Nigeria’s first Ribonucleic Acid extraction kit, which expands the Nation’s capacity to test for COVID-19,
  • NIMR SARS-CoV-2 Isothermal Molecular Assay (SIMA), a fast and sensitive point-of-care test for SARS-CoV-2 infection using a molecular technique, developed by NIMR Scientist, Dr. Chika Onwuamah,
  • NIMR SARS-CoV-2 Detection Assay (SCODA), a qPCR assay developed by NIMR Scientist, Mr. Joseph Shaibu.

NIMR management donated 60 Units of Non-invasive Ventilators to the Federal Ministry of Health and the institute worked in collaboration with the Ventilator Project Group based in the US to introduce the use of CPAP/Helmet to deliver oxygen to patients with severe COVID-19 disease in Nigeria. This project was supported by Aliko Dangote and the CDC Foundations which facilitated shipping, training sessions, and distribution of the CPAP. In addition, NIMR has procured project vehicles and upgraded its laboratories/facilities to enhance research into COVID-19 and other diseases of public health importance. The Institute also purchased next generation sequencing machines which are targeted at improving research output and enabling the Nigerian government to make well-informed public health decisions. COVID-19 vaccine development and multigenecity studies into immune responses to fractional dosing of the available COVID-19 vaccines are currently ongoing at the institute with research results being promising.

The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research is well involved in deploying health research expertise and actively participating in genomic surveillance, COVID-19 testing and reporting for the sole purpose of curbing the spread of the Corona Virus pandemic and other public health diseases in Nigeria. The Institute looks forward to doing a lot more with appropriate levels of funding and enabling environment to fulfil its mandate.

About NIMR

The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research is the foremost medical research institute in Nigeria. Its vision is to be an institution of excellence in basic, applied and operational research for the promotion of National Health and development. It is mandated by National Science and Technology Act of 1977 to conduct research into diseases of public health importance, develop human and infrastructural capacities for clinical and biomedical research and strengthen structures for dissemination of research findings while providing enabling environment and facilities for health research and training in cooperation with ministries of health, and in collaboration with universities, allied institutions and organized private sectors nationally and internationally. It is headed by the DG Professor Babatunde Lawal Salako.


NIMR. (2020). Nigerian Institute of Medical Research Scorecard. Available at:

Government of Nigeria. (2021, Feb 23). NCDC and NIMR Release Findings of COVID-19 Household Seroprevalence Surveys in Four States of Nigeria. Accessible at:


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