The lead investigator on the vaccine production team, Dr. Margaret Saimo-Kahwa, a Senior Lecturer at Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine said that they have reached a stage where they would like to commercialize the vaccine product which they have been developing.
Parliament’s Budget Committee has today
questioned State House’s competence to supervise scientists spearheading the
production of an anti-tick vaccine which has so far cost the tax payer 2.9
This follows a supplementary budget
request by State House of 2.27 billion Shillings towards the presidential
initiative on the anti-tick vaccine production which process started in 2017.
According to a document presented to the
Committee, the mission of the initiative is to develop a vaccine using proteins
identified from local ticks that would be used as part of the package in the
control of ticks and tick-borne diseases, through vaccination.
The anti-tick vaccine is expected to
reduce the burden of ticks to improve and enhance the health and well-being of
livestock in Uganda.
Now in the team led by the Minister of State for
Planning David Bahati, a Senior Principal Economist in State House Immaculate
Namala was tasked by the Budget Committee Vice Chairperson Patrick Isiagi to
explain their competence to supervise scientists and ensure value for money in
regard to the tick vaccine development.
The vaccine production is spearheaded by
a total of 12 scientists at Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine,
Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB) while the funds are channeled through
“Tell us the relationship between State
House and Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine because our worry
is money can be released to State House and doesn’t reach the scientists and
yet the idea of scientists facilitates to do research is very paramount,” said
Budget Committee Chairperson Patrick Isiagi.
Isiagi and West Budama North MP Okoth Othieno
also questioned the competence of State House to supervise scientists.
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Minister David Bahati explained that the
money is channeled through State House since it was an initiative of the
President and that Cabinet resolved that the best Vote to handle the money was
Immaculate Namala, the Senior Principal
Economist in State House told the committee that Finance Ministry provided an
initial 1.9 billion Shillings for the development of the anti-tick vaccine and
that in the current financial year 2020/2021 only 1 billion Shillings was
provided out of the required 3.27 billion.
She says that the anti-tick vaccine
production team receives all the funds and that they now require more funding
totaling 2.27 billion to enable them finalize the production process and get
the vaccine on the market.
Namala also told the Committee that
State House has a technical team which supervises the scientists. This was
after MP Isiagi demanded to know whether State House has a technical team to
supervise the scientists.
The lead investigator on the vaccine
production team, Dr. Margaret Saimo-Kahwa, a Senior Lecturer at Makerere
University College of Veterinary Medicine said that they have reached a stage where
they would like to commercialize the vaccine product which they have been
She however said that the roll-out of
the product is on hold pending satisfactory regulatory guidelines from the
National Drug Authority (NDA), one of which is to conduct a clinical trial for
Dr. Saimo-Kahwa said that this is one of
the reasons why they need money so that the clinical trial is carried out. In
regard to production of a commercial anti-tick vaccine, she said that they have
signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ALFASAN Uganda Limited- a
pharmaceutical company which is a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certified
company for production of veterinary biologicals.
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Peregrine Sebulime, also a Scientist
Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine said that the clinical
trials are scheduled to be carried out on a restricted farm with 100 cattle at
Ngoma. He said that this trial will last 6 months and thereafter commercial
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Part of the 2.27 billion budget required
by scientists will go to the clinical trial infrastructure development
(132.7 million), fencing, water system and pasture paddock development (40
million), purchase of raw material for vaccine production (124.3 million),
purchase of machinery to package vaccine (189.9 million), NDA fees for
monitoring vaccine production and field trials (12 million), patenting of the
vaccine (15 million), vehicle purchase (150 million) and others.
The scientists say that they are able to
produce doses to cover 320,000 cattle per year.
A 2019/2020 financial year NDA report
indicated that the country was facing a challenge of ticks not responding to
drugs aimed at killing them since they had developed super resistance to almost
all the available 21 acaricides.
Ticks cause diseases that kill cattle,
reduce milk production and growth of animals.