According to the Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, while the variant seems to spread faster, it does not seem to cause severe disease like the Delta variant which was detected in June 2021. Delta accounts for more than half of the country's total cases and deaths that stand at 127,755 and 3,261 respectively.
Dr. Brenda Apio Oketch, a member of the team of researchers studying the attenuated vaccine at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) says that they have been collecting SARS COV 2 viruses locally from people who get infected which are grown in the laboratory and deactivated with chemicals.
She said participants will be divided into three groups. The first one will get one jab, the other two jabs, and the last one three jabs to see if they get protected against developing the symptomatic disease, critical illness requiring hospitalization, and if they are protected against emerging variants such as the latest omicron variant.
The vaccines manufactured under the Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE) are using different technologies; One is using the ChAdOx1 also known as the Adenovirus-vectored technology, used in the development of the AstraZeneca vaccine while the others are using the Messenger RNA technology (mRNA) that was used for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
Dr Eugene Ruzagira, a member of the team of researchers told a news conference organized by the Health Journalists Network that they are giving all the participants in their PrEPVACC trial a daily Descovy tablet to assess whether it’s effective in preventing participants from getting infected.
Speaking to URN on Friday, Fr. Peter Mukasa Masembe revealed that the samples were taken to the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) in Entebbe. According to Fr. Masembe, several staff lost patience three days after the samples were collected because they expected their results after two days.
Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, the Executive Director of the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) told URN that they are still engaging in very early clinical trials in the laboratory and it’s too early to predict what will come out of the studies.
Ssennyonjo said locking is not a one-size-fits-all solution for the pandemic. He says for instance, that even as there have been huge numbers of positives being announced lately, over 90 per cent of these have been coming from the Kampala metropolitan area yet no specific measures or concerted efforts have been focused on these high infection areas to study the trend the virus is taking.
Kaleebu who was commenting on the deliberations at the meeting told URN that already UVRI is in early stages of working on a Messenger RNA vaccine but their biggest challenge like elsewhere is having to rely on foreign funding.
Viral load testing according to experts is crucial in the treatment of HIV as it helps in making treatment decisions which in the end help the patient to suppress the virus and improve their quality of life.
He says many camouflage as private hospital workers when they take samples to the Entebbe based lab. Cautioning the public to be ware, Kaleebu says they have established that apart from going to people’s homes to pick samples, the fraudsters are also plying hospital wards.
The RDT kits are expected to be a cheaper testing option compared to the PCR tests. Each kit cost Shillings 18,000 (USD 4.9) at the production site. The kits are able to give results within 10-15 minutes from testing. Dr. Nabadda says the quick turnaround time for testing will reduce delays in the release of results currently experienced.
Forty countries have updated the tool and provided data to WHO. An analysis finds that based on the self-reports by the countries, the African region has an average score of 33% readiness for a COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, which is well below the desired benchmark of 80%.
Dr. Jonathan Kitonsa, the study coordinator says while the respondents acknowledged attending functions, a bigger number of them said they avoid patients who report to their respective hospitals with symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
Even for those that showed specificity and sensitivity of above 90%, Kaleebu says they gave confusing results when they tested their performance in detecting different antibodies which he worries would pose challenges for health workers to interpret.
Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, the Executive Director Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), the agency conducting the research told URN on Friday that the study is happening at two sites in Masaka and Entebbe.