Experts have advised Kenyans to embrace clinical trials on the COVID-19 pandemic to support the process of developing a vaccine produced to meet global standards and fit their needs. Jennifer Maroa Mabuka, a Programme Consultant with Clinical Trials Community, noted that the world can only get a vaccine with a better efficacy through clinical trials. She said:

“It is important that we participate because that is the only way we will know whether the vaccine we are buying will work or not”

Hosted at KEMRI under the Kilifi-based KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, the clinical trial efforts in Kenya is under a longstanding collaboration between the research institute, the University of Oxford, and the Wellcome Trust in the United Kingdom, and at at least 40 frontline health care workers within Kilifi took part in the Oxford trials.

When the safety of the Vaccine is confirmed, a further 360 volunteers for testing are set to be recruited with possible expansion of the trial to Mombasa County.

“I do not know what will come out of the trials but possibly the results will match what has been said previously and probably not just because we are genetically different but also because there are new variants of the virus, and as a result, they might respond differently.

“Our (Africans) genetic composition has the most diverse in terms of the genes that we portray, compared to the people in the North. That means when the tests are done in the North, whatever they (researchers) see and the way the body responds, it is going to be completely different from how we respond” Ms. Jennifer noted.

The advice on clinical trials stems from the need to eradicate doubts on clinical trials within the Kenyan community, and to educate the public on the process of clinical trials on various drugs and vaccines like AstraZeneca which has been received with skepticism by several Kenyans.