According to the Health Ministry, the first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in the country in mid-March this year. If things go as planned, vaccination will then start by the end of the month. The first beneficiaries will be people aged 50 years and above, teachers, security personnel and persons with co-morbidities.
According to the Ministry, the Chinese nationals were expected to import the vaccines through Sino Africa Medicines and Health Limited. The Ministry explained that it had put in place measures to ensure Ugandans don’t access the vaccine, adding that the administration of the vaccine would be restricted within the Chinese embassy and the Chinese community in Kapeeka.
Under the arrangement, each eligible individual is expected to receive two doses of the vaccine, separated by 28 days. Each dose will cost USD 7(25,523 Shillings), which amounts to USD 14 (51,046 Shillings) per person. Another USD 3 (11,000 Shillings) is charged for international transportation and handling costs by the National Medical Stores, pushing the cost of the vaccine to USD 17 (62,000 Shillings).
The vaccine uses a weakened version of the common cold virus introduced in the body. It works by using killed viral particles to expose the body's immune system to the virus without risking a serious disease response. Once received, the vaccine induces an immune response.
According to a new statement, the rollout of the drug will commence with the successful negotiation and execution of supply agreements which will add on to an existing agreement with Serum Institute of India (SII) in which the facility booked 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
In a statement issued by the health ministry today, the permanent secretary Dr Diana Atwine said that Uganda has already submitted an application to participate in the Global COVAX initiative for COVID-19 vaccine, which has been accepted by the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative-GAVI.
According to Dr Alfred Driwale who heads the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunisation (UNEPI) at the Ministry of Health (MOH) says the application will be tendered in on Monday to increase Uganda’s chance of quickly accessing the vaccine when it becomes available.
Forty countries have updated the tool and provided data to WHO. An analysis finds that based on the self-reports by the countries, the African region has an average score of 33% readiness for a COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, which is well below the desired benchmark of 80%.
A report released on Friday recommends to logistics providers to rapidly establish medical supply chains that will efficiently deliver quantities everywhere predicting that temperature requirements of up to -80°C are likely to be imposed for certain vaccines if they are to guarantee efficacy maintenance during transportation and warehousing. The existing medical supply chain distributes vaccines at 2 to 8°C.
Dr Richard Mihigo, Immunization and Vaccine Development programme Manager at the WHO Regional Office for Africa told a press conference last evening that the doses will cover 20 per cent of those in need prioritizing healthcare workers but will later expand to cover the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.
Over 100 vaccines are being developed globally in laboratories in the United Kingdom, the United States, Europe and even China. 76 of these are being followed by the World Health Organisation-WHO and six have begun clinical trials.