Uganda has started a clinical trial of a drug locally developed to treat COVID-19. President Yoweri Museveni launched the trial which will involve 128 COVID-19 patients admitted at the Mulago National Referral Hospital. He congratulated scientists involved in the breakthrough in the fight against the virus and pledged to prioritize the sector during his next term in office.
According to the presidential think tank on epidemics (PRESIDE), the drug, a natural chemotherapeutic product developed by the Natural Chemo-therapeutics Research Institute has undergone a series of vigorous scientific approvals and acquired certifications for use in human trials
Dr. Bruce Kirenga, head of the Makerere University Lung Institute, one of a number of Ugandan medical institutions involved in researching and developed the drug, said it would be administered orally. However, it would not be able to prevent infections or contagion in the first place, unlike a vaccine, he said.
Uganda is the second African country to develop such a drug, after Madagascar, which has launched a plant-based cure; for COVID-19 and marketed it despite warnings from the World Health Organization (WHO) that its efficacy is unproven.
Dr. Kirenga noted that the current trial would probably run up to six months. If successful, a third phase involving a larger number of patients will be launched. If the drug proves effective after that, he said, a private sector player will be brought on board to market the product.
Uganda has confirmed 39,188 COVID-19 cases and 318 deaths - a much lower toll than in most countries. Experts attribute the East African country’s relative success so far in curbing the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic to years of experience battling other viral outbreaks like HIV AIDS and Ebola.
Uganda has also applied to participate in the WHO & COVAX scheme, set up to facilitate access to corona-virus vaccines for poorer and lower-income countries.
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