The Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) has taken part in the first phase of the feasibility study of collecting, processing and storing COVID-19 convalescent plasma for treatment of COVID-19 in Uganda which kicked off on Wednesday.
The study was conducted by the COVIDRES Uganda Research Group, a multi disciplinary research group coordinated by the Makerere University Lung Institute (MLI).
Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, who was the chief guest at the event, reiterated that COVID-19 has no treatment, adding that what is given currently is only support.
“So, having convalescent plasma come on board is great and we are looking forward to it being started tomorrow,” said Aceng.
She added that Uganda is losing 2 to 3 COVID-19 patients per day and the numbers are climbing up everyday thus the need for more innovations.
She cautioned Ugandans who thought and still think that COVID-19 is a joke that the pandemic is real.
“It is with us and it can take anyone of us as it has already taken very prominent people from our society. Do not become a part of the statistics but part of those that are supporting the response to ensure that Ugandans remain alive,” she said.
She applauded the Government for funding the study, Makerere University for supporting responses to COVID-19 always through advice, research, and hands on collaborators on the study but more so the plasma donors who are recovered COVID-19 patients that came in willingly, having heard of the study.
The aim of the feasibility is to collect and process COVID-19 convalescent plasma for treatment of COVID-19.
Convalescent plasma is the plasma from individuals who have recovered from an infection, which may contain antibodies against that infection.
Maj Gen Ambrose Musinguzi, the UPDF Director Medical Services who represented the army at the event, said that UPDF medical services will always be available to support all the efforts.
“It is our concern as UPDF that in circumstances like this, when the country is facing a pandemic, UPDF must be there for Ugandans as it has always been,” said Maj Gen Musinguzi.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, UPDF has had an extensive approach towards it.
The army has been involved in all stages of COVID-19 control from prevention, care and treatment, case management, surveillance and it is now involved in research.
The Ministry of Health, after the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in Uganda in March, requested UPDF leadership to support the Ministry in fighting the pandemic.
On March 25, 2020, 86 medics from UPDF were dispatched to different hospitals to boost the effort against COVID-19. The UPDF medics would later turn into critical staff at various hospitals.
The research group/ collaborators on this study include Makerere University Lung Institute (MLI), UPDF Medical Services, Mulago National Referral Hospital, Uganda Cancer Institute among others.