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The COVID-19 positivity rate was reported at 10.2 percent compared to a two-day average of 10.4 per cent/FILE

Capital Health

UK announces Sh150mn grant to support COVID-19 research in Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 23 – The United Kingdom has announced a Sh150 million grant for an innovative scientific research that will help individual Kenyan scientists detect coronavirus antibodies in blood donors, visitors to ante-natal care clinics and healthcare workers.

Under the initiative, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme together with Kenya’s health ministry will help monitor, understand, and inform the ongoing coronavirus response in Kenya and provide learning for other countries in responding to and controlling the disease.

Announcing the funding during a virtual visit to Kenya, the UK’s International Development Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the study is funded by UK-Aid and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is expected to end in June 2021.

“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,” she said.

The study is led by scientists from the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, working with officials from the Ministry of Health, the Presidential Policy and Strategy Unit, Aga Khan University Hospital, Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya National Blood Transfusion Services, and several county government executive committee members, among others.

The findings of study will be shared with the Ministry of Health National Coronavirus Taskforce and Emergency Operations Centre and will help support the government’s response, whose aim is to protect the most vulnerable people while keeping Kenyan society running.

During her virtual visit to KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Kilifi, Trevelyan also had an opportunity to hear about the UK and Kenya’s science partnership, including the longstanding record of working together to prepare for large disease out-breaks.

The International Development Secretary also held bilateral talks with Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe and Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Mercy Mwangangi, where they discussed wider UK and Kenya health partnerships.

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“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,” Trevelyan noted.

On his part, Kagwe, thanked the UK government for its support and pledged to continue working together in supporting the Health Sector.

The KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme is a world renowned health research unit of excellence formed in 1989 when the Kenya Medical Research Institute formed a partnership with the Wellcome Trust and the University of Oxford.

The Programme has over the last 26 years grown from a small group of 12 to a state of the art facility hosting over 100 research scientists and 700 support staff working across Kenya, Uganda and the region, with an aim of achieving better health for Africa while also developing African scientific leaders.

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