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Next AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine Consignment Expected in June

The consignment from the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) facility was initially expected in May, but the Serum Institute of India, the source for Uganda’s COVID-19 jab announced that it was halting vaccine exports to first, serve their domestic market in India, where infections were soaring.
Minister Jane Ruth Aceng getting vaccinated

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Uganda is likely to get its next consignment of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in June according to the Ministry of Health.

The consignment from the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) facility was initially expected in May, but the Serum Institute of India, the source for Uganda’s COVID-19 jab announced that it was halting vaccine exports to first, serve their domestic market in India, where infections were soaring.

The institute, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of Coronavirus vaccines said its production capacity was very stressed, yet the shortage of raw materials was also affecting their production capacity at a time when India was so desperate for all the doses it can get to inoculate its population. So far, Uganda has only received 964,000 doses of the vaccine of which 100,000 doses were a donation from the government of India.

The Serum Institute has an agreement to supply 166 million doses to the Indian government, with another firm, Bharat Biotech, supplying 10 million doses. India also has licensing deals with the Russian Gamaleya Research Institute to produce 200 million doses of the Sputnik vaccine. However, due to the surging COVID-19 cases in India, the company has been stopped from exporting vaccines.

The Programme Manager of the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunization (UNEPI), Dr Alfred Driwale says they have been informed by COVAX that the vaccines will not be delivered this month.

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According to the World Health Organisation, the COVAX facility will be facing a vaccine shortfall of 190 million vaccines expected to last until the end of June. Uganda began carrying out the COVID-19 vaccination on March 10, 2021. The 12-week vaccination plan expires on May 26, 2021.

However, Dr Driwale says the delays we are likely to face will not affect the efficacy of the first dose of the vaccine. He says that in the worst-case scenario, one dose of the vaccine can offer 90 per cent protection for up to 14-weeks. He adds the second dose acts as a booster and as such, people will get their second jab when the vaccines arrive.

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Studies carried in the U.S have however shown that people who suffered and recovered from COVID-19 have an immune response that equals that provided by two shots of the Pfizer vaccine. Other studies in the UK are underway to determine how many doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine a person who has suffered from COVID-19 can get before they have protected 100 per cent.

With a total of 42,429 recovered patients of COVID-19 and 466,823 people vaccinated so far, Uganda might have to look to other sources for COVID vaccines. According to a source from within the health ministry who preferred to remain anonymous, the ministry has held meetings with private companies and also other countries on the possibility of bringing in other WHO accredited vaccines to fill the gap left by supply shortfalls of the AstraZeneca vaccine.