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Why Kemri is dead broke and seeking Sh950 million for Corona virus fight

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The research agency leading Kenya’s Covid-19 fight is virtually running on empty, its managers have revealed.

The Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) is so broke that it cannot replenish Covid-19 testing materials, protective gear and the much-needed reagents.

Director-General Prof Yeri Kombe, in a report to the National Assembly Health Committee, says they have exhausted the Sh158 million Covid-19 funds they received from the government.

He told the committee that the institute has reallocated some of the money it had budgeted for research to respond to the pandemic.

The agency, which has been embroiled in turf wars with the National Influenza Centre, is exploring other ways of supporting the proposed Covid-19 research areas, especially those of immediate impact.

Kemri is now seeking Sh950 million to hire personnel, buy equipment and fund other programmes.

In order to increase capacity, screening kits production and vaccine development, Kemri is looking for Sh250 million to procure equipment like freezers, autoclave, DNA synthesisers, protein synthesisers, guillotines and illimuna sequencers.

Some Sh540 million will go into buying coronavirus reagents and screening materials.

“A lot of reagents and materials are being used in screening and testing of the virus. The institute has utilised most of the available resources and there is a need to procure more laboratory and personal protective equipment,” Prof Yombe says in the report.

Kemri is also looking for Sh100 million to hire more staff after getting government’s green light to employ 62 more scientists.

“Apart from the internal funding reallocation, the management will be approaching the Kenya National Research Fund, the East Africa Research Fund, Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative and other donors to bridge the gap,” Kemri’s budget proposal reads in part.

The institute is seeking to buy more N95 face masks and other personal protective equipment.

CONSUMABLES

Prof Kombe said the last of the remaining 50 pieces will be used up in the next few days and that there is a need to restock urgently. He decried the unpredictable supply of consumables and other materials used to carry out tests.

“Kemri was supplied with 1,344 kits for the automated analysis. The institute is waiting for 26,000 kits from the Clinton Foundation and the Ministry of Health. The kits will be used up within a day, considering the current trend of testing,” he said.

Kemri has laboratories in Kilifi, Nairobi, Kericho, Kisumu and Busia with a capacity of testing 100,000 samples per week.

This means that, even if the kits are released today, they can only last a day. Kemri has tested over 8,500 samples since the first case was reported.

The testing is highly automated and employs Cobas 8800 and PCR machines. Nine out of 14 laboratories in the country with these equipment are in Kemri.

Prof Kombe also raised concerns over the delays in freight and clearance of items and equipment.

“Important items and equipment are taking long to be cleared at the port, thus delaying some of the activities,” he said.

COVID-19 VACCINE

Amid the challenges, Kemri has received a request from the Pharmacy and Poisons Board to evaluate Covid-19 test kits that may be used in the country.

“In addition, the institute has also been nominated by Africa CDC as a centre of excellence in evaluation of Covid-19 diagnostics in the continent.

In this respect, Kemri is already involved in the validation and evaluation of commercial and other kits,” states the report.

The agency has also initiated the development of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate.

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He is a very dangerous man! Sonko’s daughter accuses senator of attempting to kill her

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Lamu Senator Anwar Loitiptip and Saumu Mbuvi, daughter of former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, have announced their separation following wrangles and disagreement.

The reports were fuelled by photos and videos of Senator Loitiptip hanging out with a female friend.

Saumu, on Instagram, announced that the two have separated, claiming that she has undergone domestic violence under Loitiptip.

“These are the things he did to me,” wrote Saumu, in one of her photos showing a swollen face and bruised lips.

“He almost killed me. I will forever fight for women to stand for their rights. Never allow a man to be violent to you.”

She also claimed that the senator had neglected their child, leaving Saumu as the primary caregiver.

Loitiptip told Kenyans.co.ke that Saumu shared her father’s traits and was suffering from bipolar disorder, threatening to expose her past to prove his claim.

The two have been dating for months and at one point planned to get married. However, Sonko’s daughter clarified that the two had split before officiating their union.

“Wedding date confirmed,” she captioned a picture of herself and the senator in June 2020.

Her previous relationship with businessman cum politician Ben Gatu also ended after she accused him of being violent.

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US raises alarm over Covid-19 cases surge in Tanzania

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The US government has revealed that there are significant cases of Covid-19 in Tanzania.

This is just a week after it advised its citizens against travelling to the East African country.

“The US Embassy is aware of a significant increase in the number of Covid-19 cases since January 2021,” the Embassy said.

In a Health alert, the US said the practice of Covid-19 mitigation and prevention measures remains limited.

The Tanzanian government has not released aggregate numbers on Covid-19 cases or deaths since April 2020.

“Healthcare facilities in Tanzania can become quickly overwhelmed in a healthcare crisis. Limited hospital capacity throughout Tanzania could result in life-threatening delays for emergency medical care,” US said.

The Department of State’s travel advisory level for Tanzania is Level 3.

The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says that travellers should avoid all travel to Tanzania.

The Embassy continues to recommend that all individuals take caution in day-to-day activities.

President John Magufuli assured the 58 million inhabitants that they need not worry about observing Covid-19 preventative measures.

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Siwachii wezi! Uhuru vows not to leave the country to thieves in 2022

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President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday made a surprising stop to lecture Nairobi residents after finishing his engagement at the National Cargo Deconsolidation Centre (NCDC-Nairobi).

The Head of State said he was angry at Nairobians for being against the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill stating that the report has given Nairobi more constituencies.

“If we have a BBI that says the people of Nairobi will have more constituencies and if it’s bursaries a child in Mathare who today receives Ksh500, how will that child study up to university level,” President Kenyatta said.

“But there is another child who gets Ksh100,000 in Busury per year is that right?… BBI is not for helping Raila or Uhuru it is for you,” he continued.

Uhuru went on to disclose that he has no plans to rule after his term is over and his interest is in finishing the job that Kenyans elected him to do.

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