Medical College awarded COVID surveillance research grant

Karachi, September 15, 2020 (PPI-OT): Researchers at Aga Khan University’s Medical College East Africa have secured a new grant to investigate the body’s immune response to COVID-19. Researchers will investigate the presence of antibodies, which fight diseases such as COVID-19, in patients and explore how these antibodies evolve over time in 100 COVID-19 patients: 50 of whom have symptoms and another 50 who are asymptomatic.

Patients admitted to the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi will be recruited into the yearlong study. The study at AKU is part of a larger research project being funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and being managed by the Kenya Medical Research Institute-Wellcome Trust Research Programme through the University of Oxford. AKU is a sub-grantee awarded $57,500, and was selected for its expertise in medical research.

The study’s Principal Investigator Dr Geoffrey Omuse, an assistant professor at AKU, said the work is nested within a series of linked questions aimed at providing important data to inform Kenya’s COVID-19 response. Dr Omuse and his team hope the results will shed light on the feasibility of a vaccine and its effectiveness. The study will also provide useful information on the extent of the spread of the pandemic including identifying populations that are still vulnerable.

“The data from these field and laboratory activities will be provided to the Ministry of Health directly on processing and will be integrated into existing models of the epidemic in Kenya. AKU being part of this collaboration means that it is playing an important role in providing vital information that will help in refining the response to COVID-19 in Kenya,” Dr Omuse said. The research team includes: Dr Daniel Main, Dr Shahin Sayed, Prof Reena Shah and Dr Abubakar Abdillah, all from the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi.

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