Govt starts Covid-19 vaccine study

Friday September 24 2021
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A UPDF medical team administers Covid-19 vaccines in Mbuya, a Kampala City suburb on August 20. PHOTO/STEPHEN OTAGE

By Tonny Abet

The government has said it is carrying out an assessment to determine whether Covid-19 vaccines being used in the country are causing sufficient immune response against the disease. 

The country is currently using AstraZeneca  and Sinovac vaccines, although it has in stock  Moderna and Pfizer, all vaccines developed and tested on people in foreign countries.

Scientists say the immune response a vaccine causes or side effects experienced by recipients, just like in normal medicines, can vary depending on where the vaccine is used or who takes it.

Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the Ministry of Health spokesperson, yesterday said the study will be conducted on 400 volunteers. “The study intends to understand the immune response derived from these Covid-19 vaccines. The study intends to enrol about 400 consenting participants who will take an initial blood sample at the time of vaccination,” he said. 

“They will also be followed up at 8 weeks for another blood sample and again at 12 weeks. This is intended to see whether the vaccine is inducing an immune response within those vaccinated,” he added.

Mr Ainebyoona dismissed information that was making rounds on social media that people were being forced to participate in the study for them to access the vaccine.

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“No one is being forced to participate [in the study]. It is voluntary…the people who are participating will also be monitored for about the first seven days after receiving the vaccine,” he said, adding that the ministry is appealing to those interested to participate in the study.

There have been cases of side effects reported among vaccine recipients in Uganda including the death of Rosette Kyarikunda, a 5th year medical student of Busitema University.  However, the government has not released a report about Kyarikunda’s death. 

Dr Henry Kyobe, the national Covid-19, Incident Commander, also head of the study, said: “The study is ongoing, and it is for consenting adults. It is looking at immunogenicity and development of immunity. It is also looking at the [vaccine] interaction.” 

Immunogenicity is the measure of how well a vaccine works and specifically looks at the type of immune responses that the vaccine generates over time. 

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