Uganda has applied for more than two million doses of COVID-19 vaccines as the pandemic ravages the country ahead of the 2021 general elections.
“The Ministry has quantified and applied for the Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine through the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and the process is in advanced stage,” said Dr Henry Mwebesa, Director General Health Services.
The first full peer-reviewed results of phase 3 trials of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University show that it is safe and up to 90% effective in preventing infection, supporting regulatory submissions for emergency use.
The virus has so far claimed 207 lives in Uganda with the death toll expected to rise higher due to the rapid rise in infections.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is yet to receive the green light from authorities in United Kingdom.
However, experts say AstraZeneca vaccine has advantages over the mRNA vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech in terms of lower cost and 6-month stability in standard refrigeration.
“This is a vaccine (AstraZeneca) which government is aware has gone through World Health Organisation clearance and approval,” said Mwebesa in a statement yesterday (Tuesday).
“The public will soon be informed of when the vaccine will arrive in the country,” he added.
Officials told the Daily Express that Uganda expects to receive two million free doses from GAVI in early 2021 but is setting aside a budget to procure more for the entire population.
The first phase of the immunisation campaign is expected to begin with health workers and the elderly.
Britain this week started the mass immunization campaign against COVID-19. Israel has received vaccines too.
Mwebesa said, “It is important to note that only vaccines approved by the Ministry of Health and WHO can be administered to the population of Uganda.”