A new consortium targeting research and development of COVID-19 drugs in Kenya has been birthed. The nascent consortium that brings together five local Universities and KEMRI has received an initial seed funding of over Ksh. 50 million from the National Research Fund (NRF) for this task.

Members of the consortium who are also the Principal Investigators (PIs) include Prof. Isabel Wagara from Egerton University, Dr. Peter Kirira from Mount Kenya University, Dr. Meshack Onyambu from Kenyatta University, Dr. Martin Magu, of the Multimedia University of Kenya, Dr. Joseph Mwafaida from Pwani University and Prof. Jennifer Orwa who is also the coordinator of the consortium from KEMRI.

The team held its inaugural two-days meeting on Monday 18th October 2021 and Tuesday 19th October, 202 at the KEMRI Headquarters and later announced that the consortium will be officially launched in November 2021.

During the inaugural meeting, Prof. Walter Oyawa, Director General NACOSTI, congratulated the consortium for winning a grant on the development of COVID-19 products totalling Ksh. 50,602,000.

He informed the members that the nation expects the consortium to work round the clock to produce much needed products that can be used to fight the disease.

He also challenged the members to convert the consortium into a national platform.

This view was shared by Prof. Tom Peter Ogada, the Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) and further noted that the development of the natural products is one of the national priority research areas that ought to be exploited by the team. Prof. Ogada challenged members of the consortium to lead in the debate of integration of herbal medicine in the conventional medical practice.

The Institute leadership also expressed gratitude with the formation of the COVID-19 Drug Development Consortium. While commending the team, Ag. Director-General, KEMRI, Prof. Sam Kariukisaid that funding would immensely boost the search for workable treatment and formulations against the COVID-19 virus.

On her part, Prof. Orwa informed that the consortium would remain focused to develop natural products that will contribute to the mitigation of COVID-19.