Uganda to receive COVID-19 vaccines in April

The Ugandan government on Thursday said the country would receive COVID-19 vaccines in April or May this year.

A government statement issued by the Uganda Media Center said the vaccines would cost the country 164 million U.S. dollars and that 9 million people would benefit.

Priority would be given to people who face the highest risk like the elderly, persons with underlying health conditions, health workers and social workers including security services.

There are ongoing discussions on whether to allow private health facilities to provide the vaccines to travelers and people who may not be on the priority list but are able to buy the vaccine.

The statement said there are currently five vaccines in use under emergency use listing, pending World Health Organization approval. The vaccines include Moderna, Pfizer (U.S.), AstraZeneca (United Kingdom), Sputnik (Russia) and Sinovac (China).

There are 10 additional vaccines in the phase-3 clinical trial (pre-deployment phase) and 76 others are at different stages of trial in humans, according to the statement.

The Ministry of Health intends to set up three Regional Emergency Operations Centers in Bunyoro, Rwenzori and northern regions to decentralize and streamline the response to the pandemic. The centers will support the national-level emergency operation centers, said government sources.

The country is grappling with the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases since the first case was registered in March 2020. As of Jan. 26, the country had a cumulative total of 39,314 COVID-19 cases, 14,114 recoveries and 318 deaths since March last year, according to the ministry.

The ministry on Wednesday launched a clinical trial of a locally-made drug to treat COVID-19.