Uganda is planning to start human trials of the Covid-19 vaccine, local media reports, quoting officials from the Ministry of Health.
Officials said the vaccine called, Self Replicating RNA, is being developed through a research partnership between Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) and Imperial College in the United Kingdom.
The vaccine will undergo three different steps before it is recommended for general public use.
Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Dr. Diana Atwine said the research team is in advanced stages of vaccine development and they are set to conduct human trials in November 2020.
“I am waiting for a paper from UVRI and other research bodies in the country that have been put in place to give me the latest details, but what I know is by November, the vaccine shall be in the country ready for testing,” Atwine said.
Uganda has recorded 7,530 Covid-19 cases and 73 deaths. Recoveries stand at 3,647.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni formed the Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE) headed by Dr. Monica Musenero to bolster research on Covid-19. Museveni’s government is revered in the East African region for its quick response to earlier epidemics.
The country has had four Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreaks in 2,000, 2014, 2017 and 2018. The biggest and most deadly was in 2000 that registered 425 cases and 224 deaths. In between, the country has also had outbreaks of Marburg, Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic fever, Yellow Fever, Rift Valley Fever, Avian Influenza and measles among others.
Dr Musenero was quoted by Kampala-based Daily Monitor that the first trial will be conducted on 10 Ugandans to see how they respond to the vaccine and its possible side effects on the human body. If it is all successful, the other stage of the trial will be done on about 100 to 200 people before the final stage of a random clinical trial of between 1,000 and 3,000 people.
“There are many steps to carry out this kind of research and possible approval of a vaccine. The vaccine has undergone the animal trial and now the next phase is a human trial for which volunteers will have to offer themselves to be tested,” she explained.
“This will be in three phases and the final phase is expected to take place in June next year. If the trial is done successfully, we can roll on the mass use by end of June next year,” Dr Musenero added.
Musenero said the project is largely funded by the UK University.