By Spy Uganda
Kampala: President Museveni has today Wednesday 27 January 2021 presided over the launch of a locally-developed therapeutic drug to treat COVID-19 Mulago Women’s hospital
The therapeutic drug for the treatment of COVID-19 was developed by Makerere Researchers in collaboration with Mulago Hospital.
The product code is UBV-01N – the first Ugandan natural chemotherapeutic product to go through an international level clinical trial process.
Since March 2020, Uganda has been battling COVID-19 which has ravaged the economy and killed hundreds of people with 39,188 confirmed COVID-19 cases,433 active cases and 318 deaths.
The chairperson of the National Task Force to combat COVID-19, President Museveni in 2020 created several platforms including the Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE)-to address multiple aspects of the pandemic
PRESIDE, which is a think tank of scientists with a core mission of developing products and tools to respond to COVID -19 and other epidemics held scientific hackathons to engage scientists to develop various products in the areas of Vaccines, Therapeutics and Diagnostics.
During the launch, the minister for health, Jane Ruth Aceng revealed that the product going into today’s clinical trial is a result of this rigorous process of analysis, validation, approval and certification by the regulatory authorities in Uganda.
In April 2020, the Natural Chemotherapeutics Research Institute (NCRI) presented its proposal to PRESIDE to produce natural chemotherapeutic products to treat viral and bacterial infections.
Since April 2020, the NCRI researchers led by Dr. Grace Nambatya Kyeyune, have worked tirelessly through all the rigorous processes to come up with a scientifically proven product that is ready for clinical trials now.
“Today we are witnessing the first clinical trial of a highly scientific process to analyze and validate a natural product anticipated to have antiviral (kill viruses), anti-inflammatory (reduces over reaction of the body to infections) and immunological (directs the immune system in the right direction) ability,” reads a statement from Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE).
The clinical trial will validate the content, standardization and replication of the product after which it will be rolled out for industrial production and wide spread use.
Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Dr Diana Atwine recently said a “working estimate” of $405m would be spent on COVID-19 vaccine programme but that the final figure would be determined by a response from the COVID-19 Global Vaccine Access Facility (COVAX facility).
Atwine noted that If produced on a large scale, the locally-made drug could see Uganda save millions of dollars in importing vaccines from developed countries
Ugandan scientists under PRESIDE said their drug has already gone through multiple quality assurance steps and got all necessary certifications and approval for use in human beings in a clinical trial setting.
The National regulatory authorities that have approved the product include; National Drug Authority (NDA), Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) and National Council for Science and Technology.
Professor Moses Joloba, the Dean School of Biomedical Sciences Makerere University College of Health sciences and one of the Scientists involved in product development said, “It is one thing to be a laboratory researcher and another to be a product manufacturer”.
“Today is the convergence point between the conventional medical fraternity and the natural chemotherapy, which is going to revolutionize the pharmaceutical industry and the private sector in the country. The results of the clinical trial will be internationally accepted because a good team of clinical trial experts have been instituted.” he added
The research team include Ugandan scientists based at Natural Chemotherapeutics Research Institute, Ministry of Health in collaboration with those in Makerere University School of Medicine, Makerere University Lung Institute, Makerere University School of Public Health, Mulago Hospital and Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE)..