Uganda's speaker of Parliament has sparked controversy with a claim that a local pharmaceutical company is about to manufacture an alleged "cure" for the coronavirus. On Tuesday, Uganda's health minister warned against the spread of false information about the pandemic.
While addressing lawmakers Monday, Ugandan Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga said that a local pharmaceutical company will start producing a cure for the coronavirus in two weeks’ time.
Her statement came after a meeting with Professor Sarfaraz Niazi, a scientist from the University of Illinois in the United States, and the proprietors of Dei Biopharma Uganda Limited.
“A professor who manufactured the treatment for coronavirus in the U.S., and he has donated the patent to Uganda and within a fortnight, the treatment will be made here," Kadaga said. "It will be available on the market here, in Uganda. It’s being made by a company called Dei International. Not that we should be relaxed, but there’s hope.”
The speaker was not the only one who got excited. Mathias Magoola, a biochemist working for the pharmaceutical company, and Niazi also met Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, and seemed to convince him that the product would kill not just COVID-19 but any virus.
Magoola: “It’s only this product in the world that kills the virus, including SARS.”
Museveni: “And the economics I think will be that, because this coronavirus will be over, the epidemic will be over, but then there will be other viruses, so that chemical should be able to kill the others.
Magoola: “Including bacteria.”
Museveni: “Because if you only make it for the Corona, then what happens when?”
Magoola: “When Corona is gone.”
Museveni: “Yes, but if it can kill others.”
Niazi: “No, it can kill all viruses.”
However, when asked if this is true, Ugandan Minister of Health Dr. Ruth Aceng, who has been working closely with the World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control, warned this is false information.
Aceng said research on COVID-19 is still ongoing – and she noted the WHO has yet to endorse any treatment for the coronavirus.
“There’s no research that has been approved by WHO clearly saying, ‘let the countries implement this.’ Until WHO has said, ‘this is the way to go,’ we still know that the treatment for COVID is supportive treatment, lots of fluids and analgesics for those who are in pain," Aceng said. "For those who are in the hospital with the severe form, we want to rehydrate them, give them oxygen where it is necessary and treat pneumonia, where there’s pneumonia.”
Aceng also encouraged Ugandans to continue washing their hands with soap and water or hand sanitizers to prevent the spread of the virus.
The best measure for preventing COVID-19, doctors say, is for everyone in affected countries to stay put, limit physical contact, and wait for the virus to stop spreading.