Makerere University which is the country’s leading research institution is making strides in devising solutions that will be used to spearhead the fight against Covid-19. The latest is the acquisition of an electron microscope that will be used by the institution’s scientists to work on developing a Covid-19 drug and vaccines.
The high-tech device was unveiled at the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) where the college’s principal investigator Prof John Baptist Kirabira intimated that the microscope can see nanoparticles that would otherwise not have been seen by normal microscopes. Additionally, the machine can be employed in forensics, and mineral identification plus a host of other applications.
“This machine will help find a Covid-19 vaccine and drug because it can identify ingredients involved and does chemical analysis effectively. It can give you images at a high magnitude that is not possible with ordinary microscopes.”
The electron microscope is the first of its kind in East Africa and only the fourth on the continent and cost shs2.6b.
Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, the vice chancellor of Makerere University said that the institution was one of those that had benefitted since the government released Shs37 billion for procuring equipment that would be used to address the current Covid-19 Pandemic. “This is a very important machine, and we can do a million things with it. We used to send out samples to Europe and pay a lot of money. With this microscope in the country, we shall save our country from such exorbitant costs.” Prof Nawangwe said.
Dr. David Serukka a government Senior Research Associate said the government hopes to use the electron microscope in the analysis and processing of many products. This development comes at a time when the countries scientists are working hard trying to develop a vaccine that will have efficacy against Covid-19. During a speech at the World Health Summit last month, the President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni, said that the country would have developed a vaccine by the end of 2021 that would be used in combating Covid-19.
He added that countries that have developed their vaccines are hoarding vital inoculants.
“This selfishness in the world [where countries are refusing to share vaccines] is bad but it is also good, it wakes up Africans… Our researchers are now entering stage five and by November, they will be in stage eight. I can assure you that by the end of 2021, we shall no longer be waiting for outsiders to rescue us from mass deaths,” Mr. Museveni said.