The Government has approved the procurement of 18 million doses of the Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine from the Serum Institute of India.
According to the Monday Cabinet decision, the health ministry, together with the National Medical Stores (NMS), have already placed an order for the vaccine, which will be used to vaccinate persons of 50 years and above, those with underlying health conditions, health workers, security personnel, teachers and other essential social workers.
However, the order for the 18 million doses will only be confirmed upon remission of $5m (about sh18.4b) as down payment out of the estimated $161,567,118 (about sh594.4b).
Late last year, the Government applied for nine million doses of the Astra Zeneca, through the Global Alliance for Vaccines (GAVI). So far, the COVAX facility managed by GAVI has indicated that they are availing 3,552,000 doses of the vaccine. This is expected to arrive into the country either by the end of this month or early next month.
Uganda has so far recorded 39,606 cases of COVID-19, out of which, 325 have died.
According to the media statement issued by the Uganda Media Centre (UMC) yesterday, the doses are expected to be available to Uganda on a quarterly basis.
Therefore, 35%-40% of the doses will be available in the first quarter and 60-65% available in the second quarter.
The doses are, however, subject to WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL) of the vaccine; manufacturing constraints, country readiness, the sequence of Advance Market Commitment (AMC) participants for the shipment plan, the time taken to place the purchase order, legal/ regulatory obligations, as well as the supplier’s lead time and related logistics; and availability of other vaccines during this period.
“The heath ministry is on course with preparations to receive these vaccines once they are made available,” the Government said in a statement signed by Dennis Katungi on behalf of UMC executive director Ofwono Opondo.
Each eligible individual will receive two doses separated by 28 days and each dose costs $7 (about sh25,700) per person. When added to the international transportation and handling costs by NMS, which is $3, the total cost of the complete dosage will be $17 (about sh62, 500).
The Government also noted that though there is a growing interest from the private sector to participate in the COVID-19 vaccination efforts, their participation will be guided by the National Task force.
It revealed that the interest of the private sector ranges from financing for vaccines targeting their staff and host communities on one hand to supporting the general service delivery components; information systems, logistics management, importation of vaccines and participation in vaccination of persons.
“The Ministry of Health has developed a draft concept note to guide the participation of the private sector, detailing the regulatory processes and controls to ensure harmonious implementation of the vaccination activities in Uganda,” the statement further read.
In a separate interview with this reporter, health ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Ainebyoona said once given permission, the private sector will offer the vaccine to the public.
He said the Government will work together with the sector to ensure that the fee is harmonized so that Ugandans are not made to pay exorbitant amounts.
AU acquired vaccine The African Union has acquired an additional 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine for its member states, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). This will be an addition to the already acquired 270 million doses.
The Government, in its statement, noted that this as an opportunity for the country to acquire more vaccines for its population.
Health ministry director of clinical services Dr Charles Olaro said they are looking forward to receiving the doses that will be allocated to Uganda.
He said the AU had not yet communicated how much it is allocating to each member state. Uganda has so far recorded 39,606 cases of COVID-19, out of which, 325 have died.