Covid drug search shows researchers need support

What you need to know:

The issue: Drug research

Our view: The pandemic has shown us that we need the environment conserved more than ever before – for many reasons. And that research is as important as politics!

There is news that Gulu UniversitySchool of Pharmacy has discovered herbal medicine that they believe could treat Covid-19. According to news reports, Dr Alice Veronica Lamwaka, the principal of the Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and Traditional Medicine Centre of Excellence, said Covilyce 1 has shown great signs of curing Covid-19.

The revelation comes just weeks after the National Drugs Authority cleared the use of Covidex, a locally manufactured drug, to be used as a support medicine in the treatment of Covid-19. The discovery of both drugs, with some people testifying to have beaten the virus after administering the medicine, points us to the right direction in terms of solving our problems. Both drugs, however, are yet to undergo the World Health Organisation mandatory clinical trials.

Both Prof Patrick Ogwang and Dr Lamwaka say the drugs need more than Shs6 billion combined to carry out scientific trials. In a televised address on June 18 and while addressing the World Health Summit Regional Meeting in Munyonyo, Kampala, on June 27, President Museveni said a locally developed Covid-19 drug would be ready by end of 2021 to help the country independently combat the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.

‘‘We are working on our vaccine. Actually our vaccine will be better than all those because it will cover all variants,’’ he said.

The President should follow his promises with action. This is because the scientists have revealed to us two important things. First, that the source of their raw materials is natural plants. And second that we have local talent that can deliver on big things but which is hamstrung by negligible funding.

There have been calls before to government to pay more attention to research in vain. Covid-19 has shown us the way – whether we like it or not. That then means that the country should do anything possible to secure funding for this research and many other studies for various illnesses such as cancer and problems around us.

Also, the government should establish the plants that are medicinal, not only for Covid-19 but for also other diseases, then deliberately curate them for mass planting across the country. Likewise, we just need to generally plant the trees that once formed our forests. What species were they, where can they be found? The pandemic has shown us that we need the environmentconserved more than ever before – for many reasons. And that research is as important as politics!

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