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Ugandan Researchers Making Progress on COVID-19 Vaccine Trials

Dr Monica Musenero told journalists on Tuesday that Uganda is testing four vaccine candidates of which two have reached the fifth and seventh stage of the 10 stage criteria they set up initially to analyse the candidates before progressing into human trials.

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Ugandan researchers have made progress with their COVID-19 vaccine with two candidates soon advancing into human trials.

Science and Innovations Minister Dr Monica Musenero told journalists on Tuesday that Uganda is testing four vaccine candidates of which two have reached the fifth and seventh stage of the 10 stage criteria they set up initially to analyze the candidates before progressing into human trials.

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While they have finished animal studies for the vaccine on the seventh stage, Musenero says the fifth stage candidate should have been on the same stage but were delayed as they looked for chemicals abroad which they have to only ship in since there are restrictions on airlifting them.

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Musenero who was speaking only weeks after a dossier was sent to the Inspectorate of Government (IG) accusing her of mismanaging funds directed towards COVID-19 related innovations and handpicking participating scientists, said Ugandans ought to know that some of the research they are engaged in now will take a bit of time before they see actual results.

Revealing that they have to first set up a trial facility before starting human trials, she for instance explains that the other two vaccine candidates, may not even reach stages advanced stages of development.

They aim to build capacity which can be used in tackling future epidemics or developing other vaccines which require up to date technology such as MRNA that is used in the manufacture of Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna vaccines in addition to the adenovector technology used in the manufacture of AstraZeneca.

Meanwhile, apart from the vaccine studies, she said the government has embarked on awarding innovators that come with solutions that can be easily transformed into useable solutions.  As part of this initiative that is aimed at popularizing science, Musenero says they want to promote local scientific literature and also awards those with promising innovations.

Allan Muhumuza, a member of the innovations awards committee says over a hundred innovators have been nominated to benefit from these inaugural awards where nominees were selected from six priority areas including the Engineering Value Chain, Pathogen economy, mobility economy, digital, beauty and agriculture economy.

They have also reserved a special women innovators award which has two nominees Maxima Musimenta the proprietor of Livara beauty products and Godliver Owomugisha whose innovation is about artificial intelligence in agriculture. 

The Uganda Science Innovators Awards will be held in Kololo on the 10th of November and will have President Museveni as the chief guest.   

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