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MOH applies to join COVAX facility for equitable access to Covid-19 vaccine

 

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda has finalized its application to join countries and organizations globally that are pooling together resources to fast track the development, production and procurement of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.

According to Dr Alfred Driwale who heads the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunisation (UNEPI) at the Ministry of Health (MOH), he says the application will be tendered in on Monday to increase Uganda’s chance of quickly accessing the vaccine when it becomes available.

Among the details they were required to hand over include; Uganda’s capacity to store the vaccine, the number of people planned to have access to the drug immediately and the readiness by the National Drug Authority (NDA) to have it quickly green-lighted through the approval processes.

This development comes amidst a global rush by countries to book the first doses of the vaccine with several candidates recently showing promise of having a vaccine available for at least emergency use by end of the year.

Already, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the United Kingdom has granted a temporary authorization for emergency use of the vaccine candidate being developed by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech after a recent analysis found it to be 95% effective against COVID-19 beginning 28 days after the first dose. Efficacy was also consistent across age, gender, race and ethnicity demographics. Observed efficacy in adults over 65 years of age was over 94%.

So far 92 countries have expressed interest or have joined the COVAX facility that is co-led by GAVI, the global vaccines organization with the hope that this is the only way poor countries can have early access.

Among others, the low and middle-income countries to join are Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Togo, Tanzania and Yemen.

Apart from the government, also private companies in Uganda have started sealing deals with global pharmaceuticals booking for access partnerships. One of such companies is the Lugogo based Abacus Pharma where it’s Executive Director Rajaram Sankaram told URN they are already in talks with Russian Authorities to be able to distribute their vaccine in Uganda.

However, Driwale says all private companies that will seek to be involved in the distribution of any COVID-19 vaccine will have to first go through quality screening by the Ministry of Health.

So far, it’s still too early to tell which vaccine will arrive in Uganda first.

Driwale says once the vaccine is available, then they will discuss a formula for distribution.

But Dr Diana Atwiine, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry said this afternoon that health workers will be the first beneficiaries followed by vulnerable groups before rolling out in the whole country.

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