Covid-19: Uganda must adopt a scientifically appropriate approach

Eva Mugisa

What you need to know:

  • Uganda has also innovated Covidex, whose Berberine content has been scientifically proven to be active against coronaviruses. Though shunned by WHO, Covidex is undergoing clinical trials and has shown to be effective with minimal side effects.

For two years, the world has been in a race to contain the Covid-19 infections. The USA has seemingly set the global standard for management of the pandemic, with scientists from the World Health Organisation and Centre for Disease Control recommending the generally implemented Standard Operating Procedures, as well as vaccination with the novel mRNA Covid vaccines. 

But this approach has little or no emphasis on a holistic approach to prevent/treat Covid-19 in ways that are tailored to appreciate and meet the unique needs and differences between developed and developing nations. 

These differences include among others: economy, geographic/ climatological factors, demographic differences (in age structure), health status/health seeking behaviour of the population, health systems infrastructure and religious beliefs. 

To this end, the government of Uganda is in better position to have a pulse on all these indices about her own people and hence tailor a multi-pronged holistic approach to managing Covid in the country. 

Firstly, there is availability of effective, affordable and accessible therapeutic agents that have been scientifically proven to prevent and treat Covid-19. 

Drugs such as Ivermectin 12mg are safe and effective when used alone for prevention or alongside Azithromycin, Vitamin C and Zinc in early treatment of infection. 

Uganda has also innovated Covidex, whose Berberine content has been scientifically proven to be active against coronaviruses. Though shunned by WHO, Covidex is undergoing clinical trials and has shown to be effective with minimal side effects.

Secondly, early treatment with the above medicines significantly reduces mortality, with the patient acquiring natural immunity in case of future infection. Real world studies from Israel have proven natural immunity to be as good as, or superior to, vaccine-induced immunity. 

This kind of immunity is more durable and robust because it primes the immune system against all antigens of the SARS-CoV2 virus, and not just to antigens specific to the spike protein of the virus at a given evolutionary cycle (as is the case with the vaccines). 

Natural immunity provides a broad spectrum coverage of protection, by closing the gaps of virus escape in the event that the virus mutates into new variants, changing its overall structure and spike protein. 

Incorporation of therapeutic agents and natural immunity options would be a more holistic approach to managing covid in Uganda than merely focusing on the vaccines alone. 

Noteworthy is the fact that the novel mRNA vaccines are a new technology, lack mid and long term data hence too many unknowns about them. They have also been shown to be associated with a waning immunity, increasing breakthrough cases, and numerous adverse events ranging from allergic reactions, permanent disability, blood clotting and myocarditis, and even death. 

The fact that the vaccines are experimental in nature makes mandatory vaccination ethically unacceptable.

The advocates of mandatory mass vaccination must factor in that the Hippocratic Oath- the pillar upon which true medical science obtains its verity and legitimacy- respects bodily autonomy and patient consent. 

The Hippocratic Oath also binds medical practice to submit itself to the principle of deity, and therefore doesn’t enforce treatment interventions on people who by reason of their culture or religion refuse a treatment, or would rather seek healing from a spiritual source. 

Breach of this tenet of medicine makes for the crime of medical nihilism or overtreatment, as well as calls into scrutiny the observation of other medical codes such as the Nuremberg code that prohibits harmful human experimentation. 

The fight against Covid-19 will only be effective when medical science acknowledges the limits of its jurisdiction and allow people to make informed personal choices concerning their health, without conditions or coercion.

Dr Eva Mugisa is a pharmacist

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