Members of the Uganda Medical Association have expressed concern over the manner at which government officials in higher offices are handling the CoronaVirus pandemic.
The concern follows a statement attributed to the Rt. Hon Speaker of Parliament, about a new treatment for corona virus 19 on the Floor of Parliament on 16th March 2020 when she told the house that; “A Professor who manufactured a treatment for corona virus in the US was here last week and he has donated the patent to Uganda and within a fortnight, the treatment will be made here….. It will be made by a Company called Dei International. …..There is hope and the treatment will start here in Uganda.”
The association leaders including Doctors Richard Idro President, Uganda Medical Association, Muhereza Mukuzi General Secretary, Uganda Medical Association and Misaki Wanyengera Senior Scientist and Senior Lecturer, Makerere University, put the records straight, that the SARS-COV-2 coronavirus (the cause of COVID19) is a new strain of coronaviruses which was only discovered to cause human disease less than 3 months ago in Wuhan, China.
They revealed that to date, there is no single medicine that can cure this disease or a vaccine that can prevent it, much as many are being tested.
The group added that any un evidenced claim of a treatment or cure without due scientific evidence and corroboration by a competent institution mandated to regulate medicines is not only incorrect, gives false hope but may also be dangerous. Instead, it diverts the population from known and effective preventive messages.
“We express particular displeasure about the quack cadre scientists who desire to misinform the leadership of our country. From what we understand, whatever was purported as a treatment, cure or vaccine is actually a disinfectant meant for external body use. It’s unlikely the same has approval by the USA Food and Drug Administration where it is claimed to have come from” they noted.
The doctors wondered why the USA would give the patent of a potential cure to country with not a single case when it has several thousand cases. Arguing that for any medicine to be deployed in Uganda, it should have undergone rigorous testing for safety and efficacy by highly trained persons.
“This testing or research is called a clinical trial. There are a minimum four stages of this research. First, the medicine is tested in animals usually mice or rats in what we call animal studies. If it emerges as safe and can do what it is meant to do, then the first human study or Phase 1 Clinical Trial is conducted in a handful of adult young men under extremely controlled conditions” the added.
Medicines which pass Phase 1 studies go to Phase 2 in which the drug is given to between 40 and 160 people and compared a look alike also called placebo or the current standard. If again it emerges as safe and is better than placebo or the current standard, it then goes to a larger study or Phase 3 in which it is tested in several hundred or thousand people. It is only medicines that pass all these four stages that are released for human use. These stages last a minimum 18 months.
The doctors says the medicine should also have been manufactured in a factory that fulfils specific criteria called Good Manufacturing Practice. “In Uganda, the only competent authority that can give permission for the entry and use of medicines in the country or oversee the testing of any medicine is the National Drug Authority. To our knowledge not any such testing, scrutiny or oversight of the medicine the speaker talked about has been undertaken by the National Drug Authority.”
Adding that, “We reiterate that there is currently no medicine to cure corona virus 19 disease. Also, there is no vaccine but intensive research is being conducted to develop appropriate drugs and vaccines. Let us protect ourselves by maintaining good personal hygiene. Let us regularly wash our hands. The good old water and soap is effective. If you use a hand wash, it should contain at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth with your hands. Maintain a social distance of a 1 metre especially from people with a cold or cough who have fever. If you have fever, cough and difficulty in breathing, call the toll free numbers 0800203033 or 0800100066. Remember, the same symptoms may be due to other severe infections.”
They also advise that if one has similar but mild symptoms with runny nose, to use the basic hygiene principles and stay home until they are better if possible. These measures are effective in preventing not only corona virus but other many kinds of infection.
“Today, Uganda is an Island without a single case of Corona Virus 19. This has been achieved through the hard work of Ugandan Health Workers under the Ministry of Health. The results of this hard work can easily be derailed with inconsistent messages. If ever the said medicine were to be rolled it out here, it would require the substance tested independent of the influence and bias of the manufacturer or discoverer.”