The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science magazine has profiled 2019 Tutu Fellow, Prof Edwine Barasa, and his role in managing the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya. He is the director of the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, a long-standing collaboration between Kenya and the United Kingdom, in Nairobi, Kenya, as well as being a Professor of Health Economics at the University of Oxford. Over the course of the pandemic, Edwine has worked with epidemiologists and advised Kenya’s Ministry of Health on how to allocate its limited resources.
The KEMRI-Wellcome Trust has been helping the Kenyan government with testing and viral sequencing, and hosted a Kenyan trial of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca.
Kenya’s surprisingly minimal COVID-19 impact and Kenyan cases have consistently been below those modelled and predicted. Science Magazine’s Linda Nordling writes in its profile of Edwine that, “Although official numbers likely undercounted asymptomatic infections, fears that hospitals would be overwhelmed did not come to pass. After Edwine and colleagues modified an existing surveillance system for tracking illness in children to record trends in all age admissions for severe respiratory symptoms, they found that the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care in the entire country never exceeded 60 during Kenya’s first peak of infections. Even Kenya’s limited health system could handle such numbers".
A scientist based at the Kenyan Ministry of Health’s Public Health Emergency Operation Centre, Kadondi Kasera, says, “We have worked with Edwine and his team to generate a number of policy and evidence briefs that have informed the ministry top management in designing preparedness and response measures.”
Edwine said that it was clear that the pandemic has shown that Africa needs local capacity, and it needs scientists who are in Africa focusing on African problems.
Read the full article at Science magazine.