Weak research funding hampers Africa Covid-19 clinical trials

By Joseph Checky Abuje


Africa’s weak funding for research, poor research governance structures and weak health systems continue to hamper its place in vaccine development.

Dr Borna Nyaoke-Anoke, a Senior Clinical Project Manager at the Drug for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) during a webinar seminar with African science journalists that while the researchers in Africa have the needed skills, and dedication, the poor state of most of their governments is a “big let-down”.

Dr Nyaoke urged the governments, private and public sectors to commit enough finances on research and development.

It is estimated that development of a molecule from the exploratory stages, preclinical and clinical stages to the last stage of vaccine/drug development require up to more than USD 2bilion. This has remained a stabling block to the African continent.

According to Dr. Nyaoke, COVID 19 trials in Africa need to be large in size, well designed and adequately powered to generate evidence, adding that Africa has experienced very few trials with COVID 19.

So far, Africa only has 56 drugs on trials out of the global 1098. For clinical vaccine trials, the continent has paltry 8 sites against 102 across the world.

Assessment by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative had shown that African researchers and scientists have the potential to run drugs and vaccine clinical trials, especially for infectious diseases. DNDi conduct clinical trials research on local and international standards.

However, Dr. Nyaoke noted that there is a need to strengthen the capacities within the African continent which include best clinical practices if a meaningful outcome in the clinical trials for Covid-19 is to be realised.

“We have what it takes in terms of capacity building to conduct successful COVID-19 clinical trials,” remarked Dr. Nyaoke, her organisation has offered a number of training and laboratory capacities across Africa and beyond.

In 2018, DNDi trained more than 500 people in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

For successful research, DNDi partners with governments, Universities, Non-governmental organisations, Research institutions all dubbed “Covid19 Clinical Research Coalitions”. Some of the countries include Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Mali, Burkinafaso, Benin, Malawi and Tanzania. Others are Sudan, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Ethiopia, DRC, Mozambique, Angola and South Africa.

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