KCCR Virologist Urges Government to Build Capacities of Research Institutions

KCCR Virologist Urges Government to Build Capacities of Research Institutions

                                                    Dr. Michael Owusu, Virologist at KCCR

A virologist at the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine (KCCR), Dr. Michael Owusu, has urged the government to use the global pandemic as an alarm to adequately build and resource research institutions in the country to be able to adequately respond to similar situations in the future.

The KCCR is one of the main research institutions involved in the testing of samples for Ghana’s COVID-19 cases.

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase in Ghana, the KCCR and Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research have scaled up their operations to enhance the testing of samples of COVID-19 cases.

The KCCR has so far tested over eight thousand samples with a staff strength of about 15 to 20 working on a day and night shift.

Speaking in an interview, Dr. Michael Owusu said the outbreak of COVID-19 is a clue for the government to invest in research institutions to enable them to understand the dynamics of other diseases.

“Research goes with funding but in Ghana and some of the countries in the sub-Saharan region, we mostly depend on research funded by external bodies and due to that, most of the research is not driven by ideas which are needed to enhance local capacity and to solve local problems. If we had enough capacity in place, then we could have done more than we are doing and the COVID coming is a call for all of us to instead of sitting down to be overwhelmed by this pandemic, we should be investing into research that will enable us to understand the dynamics of diseases,” he urged.

Ghana is currently the leading country amongst the African countries with the highest number of tests in excess of 80,000.

Head of Virology at the Noguchi Medical Research Institute, Professor William Ampofo during a press briefing on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, explained Ghana’s process and how efficient the testing teams have been.

“We simply pool the samples, meaning that, if you have 1,000 samples, you put them in groups of 10 and you test 100 pools at a time,” Professor William Ampofo explained.
“So in a short time, instead of testing 1,000 samples, you test 10,000 samples. This method we are using now was derived in 1945 and this very efficient way we have proceeded.”

Ghana’s case count of COVID-19

Ghana currently has 1,154 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 120 recoveries and nine deaths.