UoN experts lead clinical trials for three possible COVID-19 drugs


Medical experts from the University of Nairobi (UoN) are set to conduct clinical trials for three possible coronavirus disease (COVID-19) drugs.

The study is led by Dr. Loice Achieng Ombajo as the Principal Investigator (PI). Dr Achieng is a senior lecturer in the Department of Clinical Medicine and also heads the Infectious Disease Unit at Kenyatta National Hospital.

Currently there is no treatment for Covid-19 and researchers are racing against time to search for its cure.

The PI and her team are seeking approvals to conduct the trials to determine if the three drugs namely; Remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, and Lopinavir/ritonavir can effectively treat Covid-19 patients in Kenya.

Remdesivir, is an antiretroviral drug that was recently approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for emergency treatment of Covid-19.

On the other hand hydroxychloroquine is used as an anti-malaria drug while Lopinavir/ritonavir is used on HIV patients.

According to Dr. Achieng, the Ethics and Review Committee at UoN has already approved her team’s submission. Their submission has also been reviewed by the Poisons and Pharmacies Board.

They are now awaiting a final approval by the Poisons and Pharmacies Board and the National Council of Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI).

Dr. Achieng also notes that after all that is done, the next step will be community engagement where they will have to explain the trials before people can be invited to make an “informed consent” to participate in the experiment.

“You have to sit down with someone who might be interested or has a disease of interest and say; “we’re doing this study, these are the drugs we’re testing, this is why we are testing them, this is how we will protect you. If you get sick we have insurance that will take care of you. Do you agree to participate?” and they sign a consent. That is when we can conduct trial. It’s a very rigorous process,” said Dr. Achieng.

Dr. Achieng is also part of a team from UoN that is in the search of a possible vaccine for COVID-19.

The vaccine search team is led by Prof. Omu Anzala from the KAVI Institute of Clinical Research (KAVI-ICR) based at the College of Health Sciences.

So far 3,843,204 cases have been recorded globally, 265,657 have been reported. The number of recoveries stands at 1,314,422.

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