KEMRI Steps Up Covid-19 Vaccine Development

A scientist isolates wild poliovirus at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Nairobi on July 28, 2016.
A scientist isolates wild poliovirus at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Nairobi on July 28, 2016.
Daily Nation

Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) has stepped up its effort to find a solution that may help to combat the spread of the deadly Covid-19 by reaching to Kenyan researchers to join the government agency.

In an advertisement on its website, the research agency is looking to recruit 60 new personnel who are expected to boost the institution's Coronavirus testing capacity.

With the Ministry of Health reporting challenges in embarking on mass testing, the new development spells hope in the fight against the disease.

Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) located in Nairobi.
Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) located in Nairobi.

The state agency is seeking to recruit dynamic, innovative and experienced persons who can help it in finding urgent solutions.

According to KEMRI, it is looking to beef up the team with experienced researchers while also looking to bring in young researchers who can take over the mantle.

The positions advertised include 25 for assistant principal research scientists, 37 for research scientists, and also three senior accountants, with interested candidates advised to forward their application before the May 18, 2020 deadline.

KEMRI has been on the lead in the fight against the virus and recently unveiled an innovation allowing the processing and getting results for at least 35,000 samples per day, up from the 600 tests.

Unfortunately, Kenya doesn't have enough testing kits to operate the new machine at full capacity. 

The institute recently came under fire after it emerged that the Centre for Virus Research director Dr Joel Lutomiah had been demoted after failing to release Covid-19 test results on time for an announcement to the public, with Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe instructing Kemri Director-General Professor Yeri Kombe to replace him with Dr Samson Konongoi in an acting capacity.

''I hereby relieve you of your duties as the Director, Centre for Virus with immediate effect. You will hand over to Dr Samson Konongoi, who will act until a substantive holder is appointed. Meanwhile, revert to your previous position as a research scientist,” read part of the letter by Prof to Dr Lutomiah.

Dr Lutomiah's colleagues argued that he was demoted for taking the government head-on by questioning its commitment to financially supporting the research institute.

He is said to have demanded answers and even vowed to stop the testing of Covid-19 samples if the institution was not given enough protective equipment.

Under Lutomiah's leadership, the institution tested more than 6,000 individuals since the first case the disease was announced.

A medical personnel holding a Covid-19 virus test kit.
File image of a Covid-19 testing kit.
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