New lab at University of Nairobi to accelerate search for COVID-19 vaccine

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Vaccine shortage continues to prolong the pain of COVID-19 in Africa, with just under 1.5% of 2.7 billion doses having been administered in Africa.

The launch of the Sisulu foundation for African and pandemic disease response, which is a collaboration of African scientists and institutions, has been hailed as a critical step in making Africa self-reliant in training, research and guaranteeing the availability of vaccines and medicines.

At the KAVI institute for clinical research, at the university of Nairobi’s college of health sciences, critical and groundbreaking research on human vaccines continues.

Here, lead scientists explore different aspects of the body’s immune response, how antibodies are produced to fight different diseases.

“We are conducting trials with regard to the vaccine, we are actually conducting COVID-19 vaccines trails we are also generating the immune responses from people who have received the vaccine in the routine government vaccination,” Professor Walter Jaoko, director KAVI said on Thursday.

But even as Africa continues to fall behind in the race to vaccinate its population of 1.3 billion people against COVID-19, there are fewer than 10 African manufacturers with the vaccine production capacity, based in 5 countries : Egypt, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia

In order for African scientists to contribute to solving Africa’s health challenges, a consortium of African universities including the university of Nairobi , through KAVI institute and led by the Walter Sisulu university from South Africa announced the founding of the Sisulu foundation for African and pandemic disease response.

This will be a platform for research, training and will allow for conversations and proposals in the continent into actions that will guarantee availability of vaccines and medicines in Africa to control diseases and pandemics in the future.

“Even as we put together the Walter Sisulu foundation we want to generate Africa specific vaccine and one of them is Ebola, and I want to let you know that the Ebola phase one and phase two took place here at KAVI,” Professor Omu Anzala, a senior scientist at KAVI says.

Kenya is also considering setting up a fill and finish vaccine site, in a bid to become more self-reliant in supply and distribution of vaccines.

So far 1,417,100 doses have been administered in the country. With just 1.56% of adults being fully vaccinated.

This comes even as the heads of the World Bank , IMF, WHO and WTO have called upon G20 countries to embrace the target of vaccinating at least 40 percent in every country by end-2021, and at least 60 percent by the first half of 2022 and ensuring at least 1 billion doses are shared with developing countries in 2021, provide financing, and remove all barriers to export of inputs and finished vaccines, and other barriers to supply chain operations.

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Source: citizentv.co.ke