Innovation (MOSTI) Dr. Monica Musenero and a team of scientists were on Friday tasked to explain why Uganda is planning to procure lab rats to be used in Covid-19 clinical trials.
Earlier on, media outlets had reported that authorities were planning to import 200 mice at a unit cost of Shs 8 million each. This sparked uproar amongst citizens who viewed it as another corruption scandal in the making.
However, while appearing before a select committee on Friday, Musenero said they had since scaled down the procurement order and as such shall import four mice instead.
According to Dr. Enock Matovu an expert in Molecular Parasitology, these two female and male rats which are set to be imported from an American firm named Applied Stem Cell, will be bred to multiply here.
“We procured four, 200 is what we have on the order but the cost comes in with that license so that we can propagate them here; we can produce thousands of these mice as long as we are using it within the limits of this agreement,” Matovu clarified.
It is understood that the importation of these BALB/c mice shall cost the taxpayers around Shs. 42 million with the balance going towards securing breeding rights.
“We’ll get them here, set up a colony where we can continue breeding them in-house so that whoever has anything to test even beyond vaccines has a model.”
Whereas they had initially planned to import all the 200 rodents from China, Musenero told the Adhoc Committee they were discouraged by price.
“We paid the first company, after six months they returned our funds and we had to source again. They said we can’t give you because they were in very high demand,” she said
“Some of our scientific things don’t make sense and that’s why I was nervous with the media because they will hear about a mouse costing 8 million. Actually they have named it Dr. Musenero mouse…there is even a cartoon of it arriving in VIP. I even put it on my status but these are very highly technological animals,” she summed.
Musenero is being investigated by Parliament on allegations that she misused Shs 31 billion that was supposed to enable Uganda to develop its own coronavirus drug.