The former Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye has faulted scientists for providing inadequate information to President Yoweri Museveni regarding the development of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Dr. Tumwesigye says that the inadequate information given to the President has caused anxiety among Ugandans that the country would have a vaccine ready within a short time.
The former Minister was on Wednesday appearing before Parliament’s Select Committee that is inquiring into the utilization of funds meant to facilitate the COVID-19 vaccine development.
The probe sanctioned by Deputy Speaker, Anita Among followed concerns raised by Ntungamo Municipality MP, Yona Musinguzi who said that in 2020, a select group of scientists convinced President Yoweri Museveni that they could produce a vaccine for COVID-19 and were funded under the Presidential Scientific Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE) and yet they lacked the capacity to develop the vaccine.
The scientists are led by the current Minister for Science, Technology, and Innovation, Dr. Monica Musenero and over 31 billion Shillings have been allocated to their research work. The Select Committee was tasked to establish the progress in the development of a locally manufactured COVID-19 vaccine, establish the amount of money released for the research, and others.
The other terms of reference are establishing the innovation and COVID-19 vaccine development, establishing how effective such funds have been utilized, and establishing challenges faced in the development of COVID-19 vaccines and medicines. PRESIDE is a brainchild of President Yoweri Museveni led by Dr. Musenero, who was a Presidential Advisor on Epidemics at the time it was unveiled.
According to Dr. Tumwesigye, Uganda is still far away in regard to developing a vaccine since there is a need to build capacity.
He added that it was unfair for scientists to provide inadequate information to the Head of State, who would, in turn, inform the public that a local vaccine would be ready soon. “I would have wanted to know the motive of the scientists who knew it would take long but transmitted inadequate information,” said Dr. Tumwesigye.
He was responding to different questions posed by legislators sitting on the Select Committee regarding the capability of PRESIDE to produce a Covid-19 vaccine.
Tumwesigye was also invited by MPs to explain what the role of the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation was in the financing of PRESIDE activities.
In his previous addresses to the nation about the Covid-19 pandemic, President Museveni gave assurance to the public about Uganda’s advanced progress in the production of a vaccine. In November 2021, the President said that Uganda’s vaccine would be named Nalubale Dawa DN.
In response to Nwoya County MP, Tony Awany’s comment that it had taken two years without PRESIDE making a breakthrough on a vaccine, the former Minister suggested that Uganda invites international companies to produce vaccines from the country.
He said that other African countries are making progress by supporting local scientists to work with international companies to produce vaccines citing South Africa that is already producing Johnson & Johnson Vaccine and Modena.
Dr. Tumwesigye adds that Uganda needs to attract companies to invest locally so that the process of developing a vaccine is faster.
Leave a Reply