Researchers studying Uganda’s homemade COVID-19 vaccines reveal encountering huge challenges accessing mice to be able to test their candidate drugs.
This comes after Science and Innovations Minister Dr. Monica Musenero was recently bashed over revelations of acquiring each mouse at 8 Million Shillings. She said Uganda wanted to procure 200 lab rats but had due to scarcity and high costs they were to buy only four from a firm in the US.
Meanwhile, scientists say they have been searching elsewhere to have their specimens tested.
Dr. Brenda Apio Oketch, a member of the team of researchers studying the attenuated vaccine at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) says that they have been collecting SARS COV 2 viruses locally from people who get infected which are grown in the laboratory and deactivated with chemicals. She was speaking to journalists at the celebration of the IAVI at 20 years celebrations.
After deactivation, they are supposed to be injected into mice to produce the antibodies against the disease but they have been stuck due to largely mice hoarding. She explained that these are not normal mouse but humanised mouse that would be injected with the COVID-19 virus harvested from infected humans which alive but deactivated.
She says as a result they have been forced to consider taking their products to Kenya, South Africa, and other countries to instead use monkeys but so far, they haven’t succeeded on the continent as technology to develop these humanized mice that are made to mimic humans is still limited. Going beyond to another continent, India can only have some after two years since they are all booked.
Dr. Musenero says Uganda will go for the first clinical trial in March as they have managed to have one of four vaccine candidates go through the pre-clinical stage which ends with testing the drug in small animals such as mice.
So far, she says they have tested the vaccine in animals for the first and the second phase is mice and that they will do the final step in this category before progressing to humans.