By John Ikani
Uganda has begun distribution the distribution of the third batch of Coronavirus (COVID-19) AstraZeneca vaccines.
According to Sheila Nduhukire, spokesperson for the National Medical Stores, distribution of the vaccines received from the global COVAX facility began on Friday.
The distribution comes just hours after Uganda on Wednesday received 175,200 new COVID-19 vaccines with support from United Nations Children’s Fund and French Embassy under the World Health Organisation (WHO) COVAX initiative.
“Yes distribution has started on Friday,Focus is on the virus epicenter districts of Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono, Lira and Mbale,’’ said Nduhukire.
The distribution comes as Uganda nearly ran out of vaccines for its vaccination campaign targeting priority groups, with several hospitals and vaccination centres across the country reporting stock outs.
The East African nation had received 864,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine via the COVAX facility and 100,000 doses from the Indian government in March.
At least 688,000 more doses are expected from the COVAX facility in early August and 300,000 doses of China’s Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines by July, according to the ministry of health.
The government has continued to deal with the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths since the second wave of the pandemic.
As of Thursday, a total of 812,118 people had been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the east African country, according to the ministry of health.
The country requires at least 45 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to get its population vaccinated and extra doses to cater for the refugee population in the country, according to the government statistics.
What you should know
Africa is “in the midst of a full-blown third wave” of coronavirus, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.
Cases have risen across the continent by more than 20 per cent in the last week, and deaths have also risen by 15 per cent, WHO Africa chief Dr Matshidisho Moeti told a briefing.
In total, the continent has seen five million Covid cases since the pandemic began, and 156,000 deaths. It is thought that the numbers among the 1.3 billion-strong population might actually be much higher due to under-reporting.
For context, Europe – with 748 million people – has seen almost 33 million cases, and 730,000 deaths.
Less than one per cent of Africa’s population – or almost 12 million people – have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to date, Dr Moeti said.
Most African countries have relied on the Covax vaccine distribution scheme, co-led by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi), and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, for their vaccines.