Edited by Admin
The National Local Content Bill, 2019, tabled before Parliamentary Finance Committee in 2019 by Kassanda North MP Patrick Nsamba, seeking to impose local content obligations on persons using public money or natural resources or carrying out activities requiring a license, to prioritize Ugandans in Public Procurement, ensure skills and technology transfer and provide for development of local content plans, was passed on Friday 22 May 2020. 
This in my opinion means Uganda or Africa by extension must engage in frank discussions for its fair share in world matters; Corona Virus Disease of 2019 (COVID19) Vaccine’s search notwithstanding. 


According to the International Alliance of Patients' Organizations  (IAPO) as of 11th of May 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) had reported 8 candidate vaccines at clinical evaluation and 102 at preclinical evaluations. 

Meanwhile COVID19 continues disrupting health systems, escalating in its wake budget appropriation and supplementary budget requisition controversies. Maybe for now given this new normal of COVID19, budget advocates for earmarking sine taxes to finance health, like myself, may be vindicated-going forward.


Short of a cure: a vaccine is the most effective measure for handling COVID19 outcomes not only for Uganda but Africa and the world.


Whereas vaccine developments take between 5 to 7 years, the determination researchers have to ensure a COVID19 vaccine is found speaks only to urgency, should then this trash patient rights and of persons in clinical trials, little less if Africans, my answer is a stun No. But Africa can only restore confidence in her citizenry, if it took active participation in the chase for the COVID19 vaccine for now or a cure in the long run.  


Optimistically it could take 12 to 18 months before a vaccine is available and with combined knowledge and urgency that exists in research and design; confidence in a future without COVID-19 is in sight and this must be with combined effort of Africa.


Established vaccine discoveries are costly, funders or participants fight for their return on investment. This over prices vaccines; locks out the poor thus violating rights to access afford quality health care- posting worst health outcomes obviously Africa.


To fore stall the mentioned, consequently creating a participatory platform for which Africa could find an inroad, established is the WHO’s Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator initiative. This is a global collaboration task force to accelerate development, production and equitable access to new COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. Pooling resources including those from Africa as proposed in the WHO initiative, seeks to allow open access to data, rights and technologies used in testing, treating and preventing COVID19 infections. Doing so, accelerates global research efforts, protects universal access and enables production of a vaccine at a large scale for all, Africans not an exception.


Earlier, media controversy was drawn on potential harm if a COVID19 vaccine clinical trial was ring-fenced on Africans. The statements were reportedly made by French doctors (Camille Locht and Jean-Paul Mira) these fed into a world fractured by colonial racial and economic discrimination. The doctors later apologized however unequivocally racist comments reminded Africans of past medical discrimination by some European countries, casting suspicion and thence a dark cloud on Africans participating in clinical trials.  


Would later weigh in was Didier Drogba, a retired footballer who said, ‘Africans should not be used as guinea pigs in a testing lab’ and Samuel Eto a retired footballer too, called the doctors “murderers”. The comments fetched in the launch of a social media initiative in form of a petition to stop COVID19 trials in Africa.


This reaction from Africa is not entirely without merit. During a meningitis outbreak in Nigeria, pharmaceutical company Pfizer tested Trovan, an experimental antibiotic drug, on 200 children without proper consent.


In Malawi, during an AZT trial, despite alternative treatment availability; a placebo was given to pregnant women. Ethically a placebo, substance of no therapeutic benefit, may not be given when investigating efficacy of a new drug or drug regiment in cases where appropriate treatment is available.


Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and partners announced on 30th of March 2020, a selection of a lead COVID19 vaccine candidate they have been working on since January 2020; its anticipated emergency use is early 2021.


J&J launched educational series “The Road to a Vaccine” airing every Tuesday at 12 PM East Day Time: 11:00 Am in Uganda. The eight-episode series is hosted by journalist Lisa Ling. It uncovers on going complex scientific efforts in the world. In each episode, leading scientists, researchers, healthcare workers on the front lines and public health experts the world over discuss on-going collaborations for a COVID19 vaccine.


GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) on 14th April 2020 announced a development partnership with Sanofi for a COVID-19 vaccine. Using innovative technologies from both companies expectation to enter clinical trials is in the second half of 2020, if successful subject to regulations they aim to have the vaccine available by the second half of 2021. 


Also, Pfizer and BioNTech announced in April 2020 a partnership to jointly develop BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The companies planned to conduct clinical trials initially in the United States and Europe across multiple sites by end of April 2020. On April 22, the German regulatory authority, the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, approved the Phase 1/2 clinical trial for BioNTech’s BNT162 vaccine program to prevent COVID-19 infection.


That COVID19 vaccine discovery can be made without us, after all we have been participants in the past, settling for violations, so the World owes us is not saleable tenable in our times, we ought to be global players in all facets of life including health sector. At whichever cost, Africa must vigilantly rise to the occasion and participant nonetheless establishing a vibrant legal and institutional framework for Vaccine candidate clinical trials to negotiate local content cannot be over emphasized.


Recent Posts

Popular Posts