Oyindamola Adefisayo ’08, currently doing her Ph.D. in Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis at The Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, speaks on the COVID-19 pandemic and how scientific research can contribute towards finding a cure.
Born and raised in Nigeria, Oyindamola was a member of ALA’s inaugural class in 2008. After graduating from ALA, she moved to Clark University in Massachusetts USA where she got a B.A. in Biology and a minor in French. Promptly after completing her Bachelors Degree, she started her Ph.D. Currently, she is working in the lab of Dr. Michael Glickman where she is studying the role of the DNA damage response pathways in mycobacteria and their subsequent roles in mutagenesis and drug resistance.
In analyzing the current pandemic, Oyindamola said, “The success of SARS-CoV-2 as a pathogen leading to a pandemic is based on the fact that it is newly emerged, highly infectious but not extremely lethal especially when compared to other viral infections such as Ebola. These characteristics have led to governments and scientists having to play catch-up as the full impact of the virus only started to become apparent after it had already established a widespread infection across the globe.”
She goes on to say, “The global connectivity of the world enabled the virus to country hop and spread in only a few days to weeks, making the virus very difficult to contain. Currently, African countries have luckily avoided bearing the brunt of the disease however, it behooves us to be more careful as our healthcare systems are very fragile. The responses of most African governments have been commendable up to a certain extent but are also greatly lacking from the scientific support that most of the rest of the world has. In as much as Africa will need to devise a unique economic solution to the impact of the virus, so also would a unique healthcare and scientific approach is required to bolster the services that are available and needed.”
Covering nearly every country in the world, the Covid-19 virus has infected more than 3 million people globally, with many medical practitioners and scientists working around the clock to find a vaccine. As a scientific researcher, Oyindamola shares how she believes science could help curb this pandemic.
“I believe that science will play a big role in helping to stop the spread of the pandemic, but this will be in conjunction with help from various sectors of our society including the actions of individuals. There is a big collaborative push in the scientific world to fast track our knowledge on the virus, its health impacts and potential protective measures. There’s also a drive in the scientific world to try and provide scientifically valid advice and information to both the healthcare and scientific sectors as well as to the general public on the best measures to limit the spread of the virus. This means that there is a constant and evolving flow of information as we strive towards understanding the nature of the disease so as to stop its spread and also for finding a cure”.
“Unfortunately, not all the information we see is factual and it is everyone’s individual responsibility to fact check all the information you encounter and disseminate. I’ve personally received a lot of questions and seen a lot of information about the situation as well as numerous rumors and conspiracy theories surrounding the virus. A healthy amount of skepticism is necessary and that means doing a quick Google search for keywords or stated facts in order to weed out the useless and potentially harmful information,” says Oyindamola.
She ends off by saying, “I personally hope that this pandemic encourages African governments to invest more and encourage scientific endeavors on the continent so that we can play our part in the future and be more prepared in the event of future epidemics and pandemics.”
If you know of any young leader in your community, who has leadership potential like Oyindamola, nominate them to apply to ALA.