Government to get rid of unutilized AstraZeneca vaccine doses

The Ministry of Health is contemplating disposing of almost 500,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine by July this year if they are not consumed following World Health Organisation (WHO)'s recommendation to maintain the earlier expiry date.

The WHO country representative Dr. Yonas Woldemariam said that this is due to vaccine hesitancy since the earlier communicated date of expiry was June this year.

"We are worried of the public confidence, so to fight vaccine hesitancy and considering that the expiry labels are only a small proportion of the vaccine, the overall decision is to dispose the vaccine," Dr. Yonas said.

Uganda received a total of 964,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine from COVAX facility in India, but the health ministry reports that only 466,823 doses have been utilized so far yet the only expiry date of the vaccines is drawing close.

Dr. Yonas said that they are also contemplating the earlier directive to change dates that one can receive the second doses of the vaccine from 12 to 8 weeks so that all the remaining doses can be used.

This week, India announced that they have halted exportation of COVID-19 vaccines due to the surge in cases that India is currently grappling with. Dr. Yonas said that although Uganda was a beneficiary of the COVAX facility, they can still get more doses from other countries like South Korea.

The ministry of Health Director Clinical Services Dr. Charles Olaro said that they are concerned about the complacency among Ugandans to take up the available vaccines, yet the second wave of the pandemic is looming large on the horizon.

"If you look at the figures from 11th to 17th of May, 2021, there was a significant increase in the daily positive cases. There is an average of about 87 cases per day," Dr. Olaro said.

Uganda has so far confirmed 43,094 cumulative positive cases of the Covid-19 and currently has 121 active cases. 350 people have so far died from the virus.

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