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Health Ministry does not know cost of COVID vaccine – Dr. Atwine

Ministry of Health PS, Dr. Diana Atwine. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Health has said that it does not know the cost of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine despite ordering for two million doses.

According to the ministry of health officials, the government has only budgeted for the vaccination process to cost an estimated 1.4 trillion shillings (USD 405 million).

While addressing journalists today in Kampala, Dr. Diana Atwine, the permanent secretary of the ministry of health revealed that they are waiting for the COVID-19 Global Vaccine Access Facility- COVAX to tell them how much the vaccine will cost.

While they have made orders for the vaccine, she says they are waiting for the drug manufacturers to set a vaccine price.

Over 190 countries are part of the Global Vaccine Access Facility – COVAX. Uganda, Rwanda and Mozambique are among 92 of the countries that are low and middle-income that will benefit. A statement issued by AstraZeneca in November 2020 intimated that COVAX would buy each dose of the vaccine from the manufactures at three dollars.

According to the World Health Organisation-WHO, the COVAX facility has ordered for two billion doses of the vaccine. The vaccines are going to be manufactured by the Serum Institute, a biotechnology firm located in India. The first batch of vaccines is expected to be delivered to the UN health agency next month before sending to countries that are part of the facility.

Dr. Atwine says the estimated cost of the vaccine campaign is expected to rise. “The cost of USD 405 million is a working estimate of the national deployment vaccination plan to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine. This money will cover transport costs, training of health workers, flight fees for the vaccine. It might not even be enough, and we shall need more money,” says Dr. Atwine.

According to Dr. Alfred Driwale, the programme manager of the Uganda National Expanded Program on Immunization, the shillings 1.4 trillion estimate was reached during a budgeting process guided by WHO.

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