By Nasser Kasozi Akandwanaho
Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has on Sunday 29th November said in a televised address to the nation that Uganda has already developed medication to fight COVID-19 and it will soon start human trials.
After the address he also tweeted on the same matter (Sunday, November 29, 2020), Museveni said, “In the battle against Coronavirus and the other virus, our scientists have given me the good news that they have developed seven wonderful products, six of which are under trial, and one, an immune booster is already being used.”
Museveni added, “The first three (3) are all anti-virals- killing the virus and limiting the damage of the virus to the body. They have told me starting December 15, 2020, patients under strict medical supervision will have this medicine tried on them.”
Museveni also noted, “The fourth exciting product is a bronchial dilator- a drug that will keep your lung airways open without the need to use the ventilators that cause so much damage to other body parts where they are inserted.”
“Our scientists have also developed two diagnostic tents- one which uses saliva and can give results in 30 minutes. There is always opportunity in adversity,” he added.
Uganda, if it gets medication, will be among the first in the world to come up with medication to treat and end the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) is partnering with Imperial College London to start the first Covid-19 vaccine trial in the country by December.
Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, the UVRI Director, according to the Institute’s website, he says, “We are working on a protocol to start a clinical trial for a vaccine that is being developed in the United Kingdom by Imperial College London.
“The trial will begin by around December. The trial is going to focus on the safety of the vaccine and its immunogenicity,” he said.
Immunogenicity is the ability of a foreign substance to provoke an immune response in the body of a human. There has been an uproar in the African continent on using Africans as guinea pigs to test foreign vaccines.
Prof Kaleebu, however, advised Ugandans to think positively about the vaccine. The expert said the clinical trial is in the best interest of ensuring that the vaccines developed are effective and safe for the nationals. “Even the antibiotics and the polio vaccines we are using here in the country were developed by foreign people,” Prof Kaleebu added.
The website adds, “The clinical trial for the Imperial College vaccine is being done in more than 200 people in the UK’s areas of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, among others.”
Prof Kaleebu, is also quoted saying that he is confident that people will participate in the clinical trial process. “We shall educate people. Even for Ebola [vaccine], we never failed to get volunteers. Sometimes those who are opposed are the noisiest; you may think they are carrying the opinion of the whole world,” he added.
The website adds, “Although several vaccines are based on weakened or modified forms of the coronavirus, the Imperial vaccine uses synthetic strands of genetic code, called RNA (Ribonucleic acid) which mimics the coronavirus.
The earlier report from the college for the completed preclinical trial, shows that the vaccine produced highly specific antibodies against Covid-19 in mice, which were able to neutralize the virus.”
It also notes that the vaccine, when injected in the muscle causes the self-amplification of the RNA, generating numerous copies of itself. The numerous RNA produced will then train the body immune system to quickly recognise and fight coronavirus.
The RNA does this by instructing the body cells to make copies of a spike protein found on the outside of the coronavirus, according to information from the developers. The experts also say that because only a tiny amount of genetic code is used, one litre of its synthetic material can be enough to produce two million doses.
WHO and its partners are also committed to accelerating the development of a COVID-19 vaccine while maintaining the highest standards on safety.
WHO says, “In the past, vaccines have been developed through a series of steps that can take many years. Now, given the urgent need for a COVID-19 vaccine, unprecedented financial investments and scientific collaborations are changing how vaccines are developed.”
The WHO adds, “This means that some of the steps in the research and development process are happening in parallel, while still maintaining strict clinical and safety standards. For example, some clinical trials are evaluating multiple vaccines at the same time. However, this does not make the studies any less rigorous.”