Rigorous research about epidemiology of COVID-19 and its pathogenesis among Africans is urgent

Olet Stephen Charles, an Epidemiologist and a Bio-statistician.

By Stephen Charles Olet

A lot has been said about Coronavirus and COVID-19. The truth remains that Coronaviruses, a group of RNA viruses that include the new strain formally named COVID-19 are still mysterious.

A lot of facts have not yet been discovered about the killer virus especially among Africans where few cases and fewer deaths have been registered compared to other continents. With more research even these few cases could be minimized further. A disease which is poorly understood, drains resources without getting cured.

Most of the guidelines for the prevention and management of COVID-19 cases were set basing on research done in other countries; among people of races other than blacks. There are very high chances that the virus could exhibit new characteristics among blacks since Africa has different climatic and geographical conditions compared to China, the epicenter of the killer Corona virus. Therefore, there’s need for scientific and evidence-based researches in context of the black ethnicity.

According to Western Sydney University, research is defined as the creation of new knowledge and, or the use of existing knowledge in a new and creative way so as to generate new concepts, methodologies and understandings.

In this case, new concepts and understanding will be created about Coronaviruses and the COVID-19 among the African population. Synthesis and analysis of previous research could lead to new and innovative outcomes.

There are tons of contradicting information about COVID-19 on both print and electronic media but none is from scientifically sound research carried out in any African country or Uganda in particular. Some reports say that Covid-19 cannot spread in countries with warm weather whereas the World Health Organization says it can be transmitted in all areas, including areas with hot and humid weather.

Some scientists suggest that masks should be mandatory for healthy people. On the other hand, the World Health Organization recommends masks for healthy caregivers to persons with suspected Covid-19 infection and for those who are coughing or sneezing. Conducting research about COVID-19 among Africans could lead to development of new guidelines specific to the African population for the prevention and management of COVID-19.

The government has done well to allocate a substantial amount of money for the prevention and management of the contagion. However, it is of equal importance to allocate money for research on the disease. I have read a number of research articles about COVID-19, published in peer reviewed journals by white scientists and doctors but I’m yet to come across any paper authored by an African or a Ugandan Scientist.

It is at this time of predicament when we need our university professors, doctors, research scientists, epidemiologists, biostatisticians, medical specialists and other health professionals to come out and join hands to embark on research to provide information about all aspects of this mysterious disease. You never know, the cure of COVID-19 could be discovered by Ugandan scientists if supported well with research funds.

There’s no doubt that Uganda has brilliant professors, health professionals and scientists who only need to be availed research resources by the government. They could gain new insights into this deadly Trojan horse which has already started imposing a heavy burden on the country’s economy. I have confidence in Ugandan scientists. Through their research, useful information can be availed to health workers. As a result, our professionals can give Coronavirus a bloody nose.

The writer is a Medical Professional, an Epidemiologist and a Biostatistician

Email: Stecho36@gmail.com

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