Uganda approves AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine for April 2021 deployment
Uganda has approved the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University for use in the country. Uganda has also applied to secure 9 million doses through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility. This follows a meeting of the Covid-19 National Task Force at State House Entebbe on Saturday.
The meeting reported that an plication for participation in COVAX had been submitted and approved. The AstraZeneca vaccine which went into use in the UK today, had also been selected after expert advice. The door however, remains open to other candidate vaccines in development elsewhere, including the SINOVAC vaccine once they are approved by the World Health Organisation, the ministry of health says.
“Based on the evidence available and the recommendations of the scientific advisory committee of the ministry of health, Uganda will acquire the vaccine from AstraZeneca,” says Dr. Diana Atwine, the PS at the ministry of health.
She added that access to the vaccine which is expected in the country in the next three months would be guided by a criteria that prioritises vulnerable groups such as frontline workers in health facilities, schools and the elderly.
Uganda which plans to roll out vaccination over three phases, will need another 18million doses of the vaccine to achieve herd immunity. Mechanisms to fund additional procurements are being explored officials say.
With a total of 35,922 cumulative cases and 274 fatalities at the time of writing, Uganda is facing a race against time as numbers surge. The number of recorded new infections has increased 88pc during the past 90 days.
Like many countries, Uganda opted for the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine because it is cheaper and can also be stored and transported at normal refrigeration temperature in the range of 2-8 degrees Celsius. The competing product by Pfizer/Biontech requires maintaining a cold chanin at -70c, a tall order for many even in the developed world.