Uganda to start clinical trials on locally developed herbal COVID-19 cure next week

BY URN

Ugandan scientists exploring the possibility of finding a local cure for COVID-19 are set to start their medical trials next week.

Dr. Monica Musenero, the Senior Presidential Advisor on Epidemics, who is leading the team of researchers told URN on Wednesday that they were finalising documentation of the study, which will be submitted to Uganda National Council for Science and Technology by end of the week before they can start trying the medicine on patients. 

“Once we have the clearance, it will take us a day (to start). We have already organised the health workers and we are targeting around 300 patients for the trial. Those will be enough for us to make an opinion on whether the cure works or not,” Dr Musenero said.

The proposed medicine, whose components are being kept top secret, will be tried on participants who present with mild to severe symptoms of the disease. Although she doesn’t divulge details about the cure, Musenero said the treatment is 100 per cent natural but will be taken to the factory for the appropriate mixture.

The medicine is highly anticipated considering that the country is experiencing a spike in new corona virus cases with daily infections going to the highs of 400 in a single day. For instance, on Tuesday, the country recorded 449 new cases. The country is living in fear of more lethal strains of the virus spreading elsewhere, including in neiughbouring Kenya which could find their way into Uganda.  

Musenero said they have different objectives with the new medicine and hope that it can defeat even emerging strains of the virus. The study could have started earlier but a recent blockage of the internet during the presidential and parliamentary elections crippled their work, according to the scientist.

In terms of numbers, Uganda has recorded a cumulative number of 38,534 infections and 305 deaths. While a number of studies on COVID-19 treatment have happened in the country since the first case in March last year and some are still on-going, this will be the first local cure to be tried.

The rest have been imported into the country from the West and China where the disease first broke out.

Vaccine progress

Earlier this month, Uganda’s Health Ministry announced that the country had applied to participate in the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility to help speed up the development and access to the Covid-19 vaccines to its citizens.

COVAX, currently made up of 172 countries, is a global initiative aimed at working with vaccine manufacturers to provide countries worldwide equitable access to safe and effective vaccines, once they are licensed and approved.

According to a statement by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary Dr Diana Atwine, the decision was arrived at following a meeting of the country’s Covid-19 National Task Force over the weekend which was chaired by President Yoweri Museveni.

The ministry also announced that it will access the Covid- 19 vaccine from AstraZenaca, a British-Swedish pharmaceutical and Biopharmaceutical Company with its headquarters in England.

Last month, the Oxford- AstraZenaca vaccine was approved in the UK after trials confirmed that it stops 70% of people developing Covid-19 symptoms and creates a strong immune response in older people.

This particular vaccine is given in two doses and may be one of the easiest to distribute because it does not require being stored at very cold temperatures like others.

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