The health ministry says that evidence shows that recovered COVID-19 patients do not need to get vaccinated as fast as other groups because they develop natural immunity in the form of antibodies.
People who have received one jab of the COVID-19 vaccine and were
later infected will have to wait 90 days before they can get their second jab.
This is according to an advisory issued by the Ministry of Health.
According to data from the health ministry, one million people have received at
least one shot of the jab and are awaiting their second dose.
Studies carried out in England and published in the medical journal the Lancet
show that a single dose of AstraZeneca is 65 percent effective in stopping severe
disease, hospitalization or death.
The health ministry says that evidence shows that recovered COVID-19 patients
do not need to get vaccinated as fast as other groups because they develop
natural immunity in the form of antibodies.
Prof Pontiano Kaleebu, the Executive Director of Uganda Virus Research
Institute and also a member of the Vaccine Advisory Committee says people in
this group do not need to get a second dose after the recommended 12 week
“People who survive COVID have natural immunity. This immunity is believed to
last at least eight months. Now, if someone who has gotten one jab and then
they get infected, this person has double protection can wait to get their second
dose later because they will have antibodies in their system already,"
Prof Kaleebu said.
According to AstraZeneca, vaccine manufacturers, one dose of the vaccine protects
for over three months. Kaleebu argues if one dose can protect for
three months and natural immunity for eight months, a second dose of the
vaccine would act like a booster dose.
Vaccine uptake guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation also
recommend that persons who have recovered from the disease be vaccinated at
least after 90 days of getting a negative test.
Dr Alfred Driwale, the programme manager of the Uganda National Expanded
Programme on Immunization says the advisory is in response to concerns from the
"Getting the second dose before 90 days does not lead to
death or a health complication. We issued the advisory following concerns from
people who kept on calling to ask whether they can get vaccinated. The truth is
that received COVID-19 patients have immunity that lasts for months and do not
need vaccines as much as other persons in the communities," Driwale said.
He adds that despite the presence of antibodies that protect
recovered patients, they should adhere to standard operating procedures to
forestall the spread of the disease to other people.
According to Kaleebu, attaching testing to vaccination would be
unrealistic due to the high costs attached to testing.
At the moment antigen testing costs 80,000 shillings on average
while PCR testing goes at 250,000 shillings.
"Unless you are going to carry out antibody testing, using PCR tests would
be an unnecessary and expensive thing because most times the virus is only
detectable for four days in the nasal passage. So what happened when you test
using PCR and are negative yet the antigen or antibody test come back positive?
This is not necessary. People should go and get vaccinated minus having to
incur testing costs," Prof Kaleebu said.
To date, a total of 95,217 recoveries have been reported in the