Unused covid vaccines set to expire as lawmakers seek assurance on locally made jabs

The whole world may currently  be out of the main danger posed by the Covid-19 pandemic that by now has affected 696.4m people and killed 6.9m others but the virus is not totally gone.

According to www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ which provides real-time data on Covid-19, there have been 18,390 new recoveries and zero deaths by the time of filing this story. The same data-base indicates that Uganda has had 171,843 confirmed cases and recorded 3,632 deaths since the first outbreak in early 2020.

However, Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng told Parliament on Wednesday that the country still remains on alert because there have been some districts recording cases of Covid-19.

Dr Aceng named the Districts of Kampala, Wakiso, Masaka, Kisoro, Gulu, Mbarara and Luwero having the highest number of confirmed cases since January 2023. At least there have been 1748 news cases of Covid-19 between January and September 2023.

The Minister revealed that despite this stable transmission pattern, the threat of a potential Covid-19 resurgence remains, given the ongoing and successive mutations being recorded globally. The difference is that as a country, we are much more prepared in terms of oxygen supply, health care workforce competence and expertise, bed capacity includes High Dependency Units and lntensive Care Units.

Dr Aceng revealed that the vaccine uptake in the country still stands at 59 percent of the population aged 18 and above that were supposed to be vaccinated while among the children aged 12 to 17, only 6 percent has received two jabs.

The Minister revealed that at least 7, 567,200 dozes of vaccines for covid-19 are set to expire by February next year if not administered to Ugandans that have not yet received either their first jabs or second jabs.

“This coverage is below our target of 28.5m eligible Ugandans (22m adults and 6.5m children) who are up to date with their vaccination against Covid-19. Despite these successes in vaccination, the update for Covid-19 vaccination has stagnated in the past 18 months…The Ministry of Health is recording successive expiry of vaccines. By February 2024, [unused] 7,567,200 vaccine doses will have expired” stated Aceng.

The statement to Parliament was in response to concerns raised by legislators last week in preparation of the National Prayer Breakfast that was held at State House, Entebbe on Sunday October 8.

The legislators were questioning the mandatory Covid-19 tests they go through whenever there is an engagement with President Yoweri Museveni but not for any other public gatherings. At the time, State Minister for Primary Healthcare, Margaret Muganga revealed that the ministry records between 50 to 60 cases every week hence a need to protect the President who mid this year got infected and won the battle against the virus.

Minister Aceng said that though the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared that Covid-19 is no longer a global threat, the country has to continue its preparedness to deal with the pandemic in case there is a new upsurge in infections.

“The worst of Covid-19 seems to be over, but the medium and long-term effects of the previously infected individuals remains a challenge which the Ministry of Health is doing to address. Whereas the possibility of flares remains, as country we are more prepared than we were in March 2020. We hope to sustain all the health systems gains attained in the past three years of the pandemic to strengthen access to quality care of the population,” she added.

Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa after listening to concerns of unpreparedness in case there is another surprise high spread of the virus, directed Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja to cause an inter-ministerial meeting to sort the challenges facing the health sector.

This was after Dr Aceng confirmed that oxygen plants and CT-Scans in most of the regional referral hospital are not operational because of the inadequate electricity supply, saying the facilities are only connected to a single phase line instead of three phase lines.

“Prime Minister, please call an inter-ministerial meeting for Minister of Health, Minister of Finance and Minister of Energy. Prime Minister do this in 30 days because one wonders how you spend billions (on buying equipment) and then you don’t have millions to activate it” said Tayebwa.

 MPs speak about vaccines

Some of the legislators who took to the floor narrated stories of the community concerns and reservations about the safety of the vaccines hence resulting into reluctance by some Ugandans from getting vaccinated. Some of the issues concerning vaccines are unconfirmed fears of side effects that include suspected deaths, illnesses and also cases of impotence among some men. 

Mbale City woman representative, Connie Galiwango informed the House that most of the elderly persons in her village of origin who took the covid-19 jab have since died and wondered whether the Ministry of Health has carried out research in most of the areas where such has been reported.

“The Minister said that there is need for further vaccination and this is using the foreign vaccine. If they are encouraging us to go for vaccinations, many people say they can only trust their own vaccines because they are saying those from other countries have effects including impotence. In my village all the elderly men and women that were vaccinated including my father died,” alleged Galiwango.

In her response, Aceng said that there is a systematic process scientists go through when developing vaccines and before they are being authorized for human vaccination by the WHO, there are also other stages undertaken.

However, the Minister warned Ugandans against taking as gospel truth all the information they are getting on social media because they are mostly originated by anti vaxxers (people opposed to vaccination) around the globe. She also listed former Presidential candidate Joseph Kabuleta as the main anti vaxxer in the country.

“These anti-vaxxers are not only teaching against covid-19 vaccines but we have several vaccines and these messages are around the world. But when you get social media videos, go for authentic reports from research carried out by scientists. A former Presidential candidate is a very known anti-vaxxer in this country and I don’t know how we can reach out to him,” added Aceng.

Kabuleta who garnered 44,300 votes representing 0.44 per cent of the total votes cast in polls won by President Museveni in 2021, has been crusading against mandatory vaccination arguing that Ugandans must be given a choice due to the vaccines being in the trial stages and not been proven effective as of October 2021.

The Health Minister did not attempt to respond to concerns about the current lack of public information about the development of the locally manufactured vaccine that the President had promised was progressing well.

Dr Aceng said that Parliament can only get information about the local vaccine development progress through Dr Monica Musenero, the Minister for Science and Technology because it is her docket that is carrying out the research.

One thought on “Unused covid vaccines set to expire as lawmakers seek assurance on locally made jabs

  1. Fantastic beat! I’m interested in learning as I explore your website. How can I sign up for your blog? Your account has been a valuable resource for me, and your post has given me a clear understanding of the topic. Keep up the great work! By the way I am a Senior Researcher @ (Clickmen™)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *