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KEMRI funded in the fight against Covid-19 transitional genomics

The British High Commission announced a new funding in the fight against Covid-19 transitional genomics and Vaccines evaluation to Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Kilifi.

This follows concerns from the World Health Organization (WHO), Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and other researchers who raised the need for genomics capacity to inform Covid-19 surveillance.

Led by the Deputy High Commissioner and Development Director to Kenya, Julius Court, the Commission highlighted the current state of the medical sector in fighting Covid-19 pandemic.

KEMRI has reportedly become a synonymous institution in providing solutions to medical research in responding to the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking to the Press, Court commended KEMRI Kilifi, for becoming an outstanding and reliable research institution in the County, Kenya and the region at large.

“This is a wonderful example of an institution that has built up capability and as UK, we are proud to be part of that success story between KEMRI/Welcome Trust for 30 years,” Court expressed.

He highlighted that researchers around the world particularly in Kilifi have made great progress in helping bring the country back to its norm.

“Also two years ago, researchers across the world in the Oxford and AstraZeneca team but particularly people here started working on the vaccine that has enabled us to get back to the new norm,” he commended.

Court congratulated the entire research team acknowledging that the work being done at KEMRI is quite appealing since it has left an impact on the people.

“I want to salute the team for having done an amazing job to get from that situation where we were faced with an unprecedented crisis to now when we are back to normal,” he said.

Court said that the commission is focusing particularly on Covid-19 and how to better the partnership.

“Today we are particularly focused on Covid-19 and we are looking at furthering the partnership in fighting the viral disease,” Court added.

He further stated that the concerns from the African CDC and WHO should trigger the need for countries to understand different variances of Covid-19 discovered in order to respond and have a capacity within a country to view the huge difference.

“That’s in essence a policy issue looking at the effectiveness of vaccines, the safety of vaccines and issues of genomic sequencing because we are pretty sure that Omicron is not the last variant and then we’ll need to deal with more in the months and years ahead,” he said.

“I am pleased to announce new funding totaling to Euros 980,000 to build on support for Covid-19 transitional genomics and also vaccine evaluation,” he said.

He asserted that the programme complements genomic sequencing support that had been announced by the Foreign and Health Secretaries back in July 2021.

There had been an agreement between President Kenyatta and the UK Prime Minister, a health MOU between the Foreign Secretary of UK and Cabinet Secretary Kagwe as well as the agreements that were signed by President Kenyatta when he visited the UK last year.

He said that KEMRI Kilifi is a crucial institution because there are very few countries whose innovations and research are essential to the UK’s offer and how Kenya works.

Samuel Kariuki, KEMRI Kilifi acting Director General, said that the institution has been on the upfront in research and fighting Covid-19 through supplying the highest number of sanitizers to KEMSA.

“KEMRI has supplied the highest quantity of sanitizers to KEMSA and other public health entities to be able to prevent the pandemic,” Kariuki said.

Addressing the media, Kariuki said that the President established Kenya Biovax Company Limited November last year, under the National Treasury which has a Board of Directors and a properly scheduled budget to ensure massive production of vaccines.

By Palmira Kabibi and Linda Tunu

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