30 Ugandans enroll for rift valley fever vaccine trials in Masaka

30 Ugandans enroll for rift valley fever vaccine trials in Masaka

Masaka, Uganda | URN | Thirty Ugandans have volunteered to participate in a clinical trial towards finding an effective vaccine against the hemorrhagic Rift Valley Fever (RVF).

The study conducted by the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) and Medical Research Council (MRC) is happening in Masaka, which was selected to assess the safety profile and tolerability of the ChAdOx1 RVF vaccine candidate for Rift Valley Fever.

Dr. Zac Anywaine, the lead researcher based at the UVRI research center in Masaka, says it is the first time the Rift Valley Fever (ChAdOx1 RVF) vaccine is tested on humans in Uganda. The same clinical trial is concurrently being conducted at the University of Oxford.

He indicates that the 30 volunteer participants have been identified and assessed based on the trial’s eligibility criteria to ascertain that they are in good health status before the vaccine is administered to them. They will be closely monitored for 12 weeks to observe their immune responses.

According to Dr. Anywaine, they completed the early phase pre-clinical study for the vaccine where it was administered in lower animals and accordingly fulfilled the requirements to proceed to phase one clinical trial, which involves humans.

The scientific study toward developing the desired vaccine against RVF has been ongoing for the last three years. Dr. Anywaine indicates that their intervention is primarily to find an effective control for a fever that has been a human health concern for several decades.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Rift Valley Fever was first recognized in 1931 in Kenya when it first manifested in ruminant animals and its first outbreak was reported in Uganda in 1941 around the Semulik area.

In recent times, between 2017 to 2022, the viral hemorrhagic fever was confirmed in 23 districts of Uganda after it affected 63 people, especially within the cattle-keeping communities.

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Despite its known high mortality rate in both humans and livestock, Dr. Anywaine says the viral fever has no definitive solution in terms of a drug that can cure it, which makes studies to find a vaccine to prevent it even more timely.

Once acquired, the RVF is known for causing abortion storms, leading to a 90% mortality rate in lambs and young goats, while in humans, it has 21% mortality and 75% in HIV-positive cases.

The selected volunteers comprise male and female healthy adults between 18-50 years, who are participating in the trial on free consent.

Before the development of an effective prevention vaccine and treatment drug, scientists advise people to always be cautious when associating with ruminant animals, especially those that suffer miscarriages, to avoid consuming uncooked milk and meat, as well as regularly sleeping under mosquito nets to avoid getting into contact with the virus transmitters.