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Covid-19: Seven people succumb to coronavirus

Health & Science

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe.

Seven people have succumbed to coronavirus in Kenya in the last 24 hours, pushing the national fatality tally to 689.

In a statement to newsrooms on Saturday, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said, however, 77 recovered from the disease as 40 were discharged from hospitals and 37 from the Home-Based Care programme. Total recoveries now stand at 24,581.

Out of the 164 that tested positive from a sample size of 3,872, 140 were Kenyans and 24 were foreigners.

The national infections tally now stands at 37,871. The youngest who tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 24 hours was a six-month-old infant and the oldest 81.

In Nairobi, 41 people tested positive, while 22 were reported in Busia, followed by Kisumu (17), Turkana (14) and Embu (12).

Meanwhile, recruitment of 400 volunteers for Covid-19 vaccine trial is set to begin in Kilifi County.

The process is expected to kick off on October 1.

The Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) that is conducting the exercise, says a few housekeeping issues are still being worked on before the process begins.

“We have received all the required national approvals and now we are pursuing consent from the study sites and then we are good to go,” says Kemri Director-General Yeri Kombe.

This will make Kenya the second country in the continent after South Africa to engage in Covid-19 vaccine trial.

The study will be carried out at the Kilifi County Hospital, but other sites in Mombasa County may be included as the work progresses.

Social requirements

The volunteers will have to meet strict medical and social requirements for the two-year study. For example, women must not be breastfeeding or pregnant and not planning to conceive within the study period.

They will be required to produce evidence that they are on an effective contraceptive or be in a strictly monogamous relationship where the male is either sterilised or using an effective birth control method.

“In such case, the male partner should have been sterilised at least six months prior to the female subject’s entry into the study and the relationship is monogamous,” says the study protocol.

If the male partner is using a condom as a contraceptive, which has about two per cent failure rate, the woman should also be on a spermicide or a diaphragm.

People with a drinking problem are also locked out of the study. “Suspected or known current alcohol abuse; that is taking more than two bottles of 500mls beer a day or more than two large glasses of 12 per cent wine per day are not eligible,” says the protocol.

This comes as the Regional Expert Committee on Traditional Medicine for Covid-19, an edifice of World Health Organisation (WHO), Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and the African Union Commission for Social Affairs, has endorsed phase III clinical trials of herbal medicines for Covid-19.

According to a press release from WHO, released on September 19, 2020; the trials are to ascertain the scientific and clinical efficacy of drugs before they are cleared for Covid-19 treatment.

“Just like other areas of medicine, sound science is the sole basis for safe and effective traditional medicine therapies,” said Dr Prosper Tumusiime, who is the Director of Universal Health Coverage and Life Course Cluster at WHO Regional Office for Africa.

“The onset of Covid-19, like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, has highlighted the need for strengthened health systems and accelerated research and development programmes, including on traditional medicines,” added Tumusiime.

This endorsement will ensure that African scientists are accorded the opportunity to exercise their technical capacity to run clinical trials on the herbal products. According to WHO, participants’ safety will be a priority. The scientists will be able to subject a product to ‘continuation, modification or termination of a trial based on evaluation’ on the outcome.

WHO states: “The endorsed technical documents are aimed at empowering and developing a critical mass of technical capacity of scientists in Africa to conduct proper clinical trials to ensure quality, safety and efficacy of traditional medicines in line with international standards.”

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