Breaking

Gov't Considers Redirecting COVID-19 Vaccine Funds

The government had earlier on planned to procure 18 million doses of Sinopharm vaccine through the COVAX facility and nine million doses of the J&J vaccine through the African Vaccines Acquisition Trust (AVAT) channel. About 41 billion Shillings has been released for the procurements.
The Minister of State for General Duties in the Ministry of Health, Robinah Nabbanja receiving the jab

Audio 1

The Ministry of Health is considering re-allocating some of the funds meant for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, Uganda Radio Network has learnt.

The government had earlier on planned to procure 18 million doses of Sinopharm vaccine through the COVAX facility and nine million doses of the J&J vaccine through the African Vaccines Acquisition Trust (AVAT) channel. About 41 billion Shillings has been released for the procurements.

However, all this money might not be used to procure vaccines considering the high number of donations the country has received. So far, Uganda has received 17.1 million doses of vaccines with another 15.5 million expected to arrive before the end of the year. The additional pending consignments include 18 million doses of different vaccines expected through COVAX  and some of the country's procured vaccines. When they arrive, the countries vaccines stocks will stand at 32.6 million.

The government of Uganda procured vaccines will account for 9.4 per cent of the total stock. Data from the health ministry shows that by the end of the year, the government will have received 3.4 million doses (1.4 doses of the J&J and two million of the Sinopharm) of the procured COVID-19 vaccines altogether.

Based on the records, some officials within the vaccination department of the health ministry said the funds previously allocated to the procurement of vaccines might now be used for something else. Dr Immacualte Ampaire, the deputy programme manager of the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunization says that they will make a decision at the end of December after looking at the vaccinated numbers.

//Cue in; "By end of...

Cue out...other groups."//

But the UNEPI Programme Manager, Dr Alfred Driwale, however, is quick to add that making a decision in December might be premature. He says they will have to wait until all Ugandans have been vaccinated to decide a way forward.

At the moment 6.9 million doses of vaccines have been administered with 5.7 people getting one dose and only 1.2 being fully vaccinated. With the scheduled re-opening of the economy in January 2020, scientists say that the country might experience an increase in COVID-19 cases. With such low numbers of persons fully vaccinated, they warn that the vaccine stocks might not be helpful.

"Things keep on changing where vaccines are concerned. Some people promise vaccines and don't deliver all, while others just wake up and decide to give you vaccines. So for now, we cannot plan on what is expected. We shall decide whether to go ahead with the procurement of vaccines after we have hit our target number," Dr Driwale said.

Dr Monica Musenero, an epidemiologist and also the former senior presidential advisor of epidemics says the country's high number of donated vaccines will not protect the masses from being infected with COVID-19.

"Only developed countries that are carrying out research on new variants can be safe with variants. We have many vaccines but they were all developed to fight the Wuhan virus. They may not be helpful when it comes to other variants," she said.

Scientists advise that people continue to adhere to standard operating procedures such as wearing facial masks, washing hands and avoiding crowded places since these are the only tested methods that can control the spread of the disease.

"Vaccination works but we are still learning about these viruses and technology continuously changes. The only time tested way that we can protect ourselves is by adhering to the SOPs," Dr Misaki Wayengera, the chairman of the Ministerial Scientific COVID-19 Taskforce said.

Images 2