NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 22 – The UK has today announced support for innovative scientific research that will help individual Kenyan scientists detect coronavirus antibodies in blood donors, visitors to ante-natal care clinics and healthcare workers.
The programme, backed by £1.1million (KES 150million) research grant is led by the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme together with the Kenya Ministry of Health. It will help monitor, understand, and inform the ongoing coronavirus response in Kenya and provide learnings for similar countries in responding to and controlling the disease.
The UK has a longstanding record of working with Kenya to prepare for large disease outbreaks, including providing supplies and making sure its healthcare system is well equipped. The British funded Public Health Emergency Operations Centre, opened in 2016, has been at the heart of Kenya’s coronavirus response – helping to trace and rapidly respond to cases.
Announcing the funding during a virtual visit to Kenya, the UK’s International Development Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:
“Coronavirus is a threat to every one of us around the world. It’s vital we work together to defeat this disease.
“The UK is placing science at the heart of our support for Kenya during this pandemic. We believe these studies will provide robust predictions about the spread of infection and help to control the disease, contributing to keeping us all safe.
“We will continue to work in close partnership with the Kenyan government and Kenyans in other ways to contain and tackle coronavirus – including through strengthening healthcare and boosting the economy by protecting jobs.”
UK Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya Sussie Kitchens said “This is all part of the UK placing science at the very of its partnership with Kenya in supporting an effective response on coronavirus.”
The study is funded by UK aid and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is expected to end in June 2021. The sample study, led by local scientists and authorities, will focus on both confirmed cases where there are no symptoms, confirmed non-severe cases and cases where there are severe symptoms.
During her visit, the International Development Secretary also had an opportunity to hear about the UK and Kenya’s science partnership through a virtual visit to KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Kilifi. Here she witnessed UK and Kenya health partnerships; including our longstanding record of working together to prepare for large disease out-breaks.
Earlier, she held bilateral talks with Cabinet Secretary for Health, Mutahi Kagwe, and Chief Administrative Secretary Health, Dr. Mercy Mwangangi, where they discussed wider UK and Kenya health partnerships; including the longstanding record of working together. On his part, the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Mutahi Kagwe, thanked the UK government for its support and pledged to continue working together in supporting the Health Sector.