Govt to roll out American Covid vaccines today

Monday September 27 2021
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A health worker administers AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to Health Minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, at Mulago Women’s Specialised Hospital in Kampala in March. PHOTO | FILE

By Tonny Abet

Government will today avail two types of vaccines, Pfizer and Astrazeneca, to Ugandans amid debate among scientists that the latter offers more sustained protection against Covid-19. 

Dr Misaki Wayengera, the head of scientists advising government on Covid-19, in a letter to Daily Monitor  yesterday, said cases of infection among those vaccinated with Astrazeneca are less than those who received the Pfizer shot. 

Both Pfizer and Astrazenaca are double-shot vaccines and at the initial approval by separate bodies, Pfizer had an efficacy of 95 percent, which was higher than Astrazeneca’s 67 percent in preventing Covid-19. 

A study on the effectiveness of the two vaccines, which was published in the scientific journal Nature last month, 90 days after the jab, says protection from Pfizer drops 17 percent while that from Astrazeneca drops by 8 percent. 

“The vaccine’s [Pfizer] effectiveness fell to 90 percent, 85 percent and 78 percent after 30, 60 and 90 days, respectively. The vaccine developed by Oxford and the pharmaceutical company Astrazeneca in Cambridge, UK, was 69 percent effective against a high viral load 14 days after the second dose, falling to 61 percent by 90 days,” the report reads in part. 

A previous study in the UK also indicated that mixing Astrazeneca with Pfizer produces better protection. However, Dr Alfred Driwale, the head of immunisation programme, in an interview last Monday said there would be no mixing of vaccines in Uganda. 

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Dr Diana Atwine, the Ministry of Health permanent secretary, in a statement last Friday, dictated who will go for Pfizer or AstraZeneca. The vaccination with Pfizer will happen in Kampala, Wakiso, and Mukono while vaccination using AstraZeneca and Moderna will be countrywide. 

“All persons starting the vaccination will receive Pfizer vaccine as their first dose and will after one month (4 weeks) receive their second dose of Pfizer. All persons who started with Astrazeneca and are due for second dose after 2 or 3 months will be provided Astrazeneca in the same locations,” she said.

Dr Atwine added that persons who started vaccination with Sinovac and are due for the second dose would be informed shortly on the date to turn up.

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