• In Africa, it is gratifying that research institutions, universities and partners have made commendable progress that counts in the global prism.
• There have been efforts in Kenya where top-notch researchers have collaboratively managed to undertake sequencing of the virus that largely informs the mode of transmission.
The search for Covid-19 vaccine has been long and elusive. World over, the strive still remains work in progress with no official roll-out so far.
Countries are at different stages in pursuit of developing an effective vaccine to the uncharacteristically mutating virus. There have been reports that some countries such as Russia, England, Brazil, China are very close to producing a vaccine with successful trails done.
In Africa, it is gratifying that research institutions, universities and partners have made commendable progress that counts in the global prism. There have been efforts in Kenya where top-notch researchers have collaboratively managed to undertake sequencing of the virus that largely informs the mode of transmission.
The changing symptomatic manifestations of the virus have also been combed, comparative studies to extent to which the Ebola and its vaccine, (which is credited to Kenyan scholars) compares with the Covid-19 undertaken. Just to mention but a few great research efforts that make our Kenyan research output part of the global discourse.
Across the borders, similar efforts have varyingly been registered, notably, in South Africa and Nigeria but on different focus and milestones from Kenya's.
That means the ultimate gain remains in the inter-country collaborations to get the cure faster. Luckily, there are already existing and functional regional and continental associations, collaborations and memoranda such as the Inter-University Council of East Africa and the Association of African Universities. Such structures can be utilised as a framework for joint research, subsequent trials and roll-out.
The search expectedly, is a high octane affair due to what is at stake for the entity or country to release the vaccine. Commercially, there is mammoth potential gain as well as huge inter-lateral implications for the country that may “blink’ first. Conversely, a pitfall in any way upon release is disastrous not only to the human beings but also the country’s reputation that would be difficult to repudiate.
The collaboration, therefore, would tap into wealth of expertise across the continent thereby reducing and/or mitigating said risks of surrounding untimely release or unfinished “product”. Such a joint move would also be more effective. Such a pact would also open important research leads into unearthing potentially remedies of existing and looming pandemics if they befall us for better preparedness.
A continental roadmap in form of policy intervention would also be explored in the long run. A policy that would be essential for a streamlined and unified handling of such plagues amongst countries owing to similar deprivations we belabour across African countries.
It is worth to note, time is of essence to the search, as the globe’s attention and focus is solely on vaccine. Let us then in the spirit of Agenda 2063 tagline of ” Africa we Want” make in-roads we can lead by our able scholars. Even if we don’t attain Africa-made vaccine, we shall be among the global principals in the roll of its inventors.
Mutethia Wa Mberia is a communication/PR practitioner