Uganda has received 196,800 doses of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which were bought by the government. This is the first batch of the nine million doses of the single-shot vaccines.
The vaccines were delivered aboard Brussels Airlines, which torched down at Entebbe International Airport on Thursday night. The Health Ministry Permanent Secretary, Dr. Diana Atwine, says that another batch of 1.2 million doses on the same vaccine will arrive in the country by the end of next month.
She says that more people will now have access to COVID-19 vaccination because of the delivery of the additional vaccines. Most of the vaccines Uganda has had were donations from rich countries.
Since March, Uganda has received 5,690,363 doses of various vaccines including AstraZeneca, Moderna, Sinovac, Pfizer, and Johnson and Johnson. Of these doses, 2.2 million have been administered, whereby 1,7 million people have got their first jab while nearly 600,000 have gotten two doses. Since people get only one shot for Johnson and Johnson vaccine, Atwine is optimistic that it will attract a high turnup across the country.
She adds that the ministry is set to open vaccination sites at places that attract large gatherings such as religious centres and markets.
Atwine says the government released Shillings 120 billion to buy vaccines. UGX 55.8 billion was released to buy 9 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The doses are being procured through the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust-AVAT. AVAT was launched last November by the African Union with support from Africa CDC and Afriexim Bank among others to ensure widespread access to COVID-19 vaccines across the continent.
Kudakwashe Matereke, the Regional Chief Operating Officer Afriexim Bank East Africa Branch, says Uganda has made an order through AVAT for 9 million doses, 196,800 of which have been delivered. AVAT signed an agreement to purchase 400 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine to be delivered by next year.
“By working together and by pooling resources, African countries have been able to secure millions of vaccine doses produced right here in Africa. This will provide impetus to the fight against COVID-19 across the continent and will lay the basis for Africa’s social and economic recovery,” he said.
“This vaccine acquisition is a unique milestone for the African continent. It is the first time Africa has undertaken a procurement of this magnitude involving all Member States. It also marks the first time that the AU Member States have collectively purchased vaccines to safeguard the health of the African population.”
The 400m vaccines through AVAT are expected to immunise a third of the African people. Africa wants to vaccinate at least 60 percent of its 1.2 billion population Matereke says UNICEF is providing logistical and delivery services for the doses. AVAT expects to ensure the delivery of 50 million vaccine doses to African countries before the end of December 2021. By January, the number of vaccines being released will be in the excess of 25 million per month.