Dr. Monica Musenero, senior presidential advisor on epidemics has revealed that the country is considering producing Covid-19 diagnostic kits to boost their availability and in turn increase the Covid-19 testing capacity.
“We are soon starting to produce our own diagnostic kits which will make diagnostics more widely available because currently, the kits are very expensive and not so available. We are no longer testing everybody as we used to earlier because the kits are few. We sent children to school without testing them which was a big risk but that’s the best that we could do. However, we will soon start producing our own,” she said.
She added that they the responsible departments and agencies have been working on a number of diagnostic tools which will soon be availed to the public.
Dr. Musenero further shed light on the aims of an initiative, the Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE), which was set up in order to manage epidemics in the country.
“This was an initiative by the President to set up a platform to focus, drive science so that we can address issues around covid-19,” she explained.
She said that under PRESIDE, there are 2 categories of scientists; those who sit with the ministers and people in the ministry of health to advise the technical teams and the other group are scientists who are working on vaccines, diagnostics on drugs being used, communication tools, ICT and other wider knowledge that is supposed to be used in such processes.
Currently, they work with multiple scientists from different entities as PRESIDE coordinates, guides and supports them to work as teams and above all, science is used to explain certain policies and other issues.
Dr. Musenero revealed that PRESIDE is the entity that is coordinating all the research on covid-19 including vaccines, although they aren’t yet on the level where they can be used.
“We are also working on developing drugs and we shall soon be starting our first clinical trial of our local drug and we will inform the public once it’s ready. We are processing permission from the National Council of Science and Technology to work on a local treatment. If this works, it will be a good step in reducing the number of deaths that we are seeing,” she stressed.
She also noted that the team is doing research on other possible vaccine options and clinical trials on covid-19 treatment.
“For instance, we know that if vitamin D is low in your body, you can’t fight covid-19 very well. So, we are doing a rapid assessment to see whether the vitamin D is in the population especially those who are very vulnerable, but we are also working on identifying a widely available source of vitamin D which can be availed to the needy population in a short time,” she concluded.