Museveni commissions vaccine-making facility 

President Museveni (2nd right) and Kenya Deputy President William Ruto (2nd left) officiate at the laying of a foundation stone for the construction of  the Biological Drugs and mRNA Vaccine manufacturing facility at Matuga in Wakiso District, yesterday. PHOTOS/ PPU

What you need to know:

  • Government is hopeful that if all goes well, the country should start manufacturing vaccines in six months

President Museveni yesterday commissioned Biological Drugs and mRNA (Messenger Rigonucliec Acid) vaccine facility in Matuga, Wakiso District, that will make vaccines readily available in the country.
According to Ms Lindah Nabusayi, the senior presidential press secretary, the facility is under the Dei Group, a factory that deals in pharmaceuticals, research and value addition on produce.

The President was in company of Dr William Ruto, the deputy president of Kenya, Dr Yonas Tegega Woldemariam, the World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative, and an adviser  at Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Prof Sarfaraz Niaz, among others.
Dr Monica Musenero, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, who is also a senior presidential adviser, said the facility is a private initiative which will manufacture modern vaccines. 
According to experts, mRNA vaccines don’t use live virus to trigger an immune response but instead teach the  cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response.

Dr Musenero yesterday said if all goes well, the country should start manufacturing the vaccines in six months.

“Funding has been secured …and technical people from abroad have been in the country, shipment of equipment is going to begin. If everything goes well, within six months, we should be able to start supplying Ugandans with some vaccines. Another vaccine manufacturing unit vaccine unit will be set up soon,” Dr Musenero said.

Ugandans line up to catch  a glimpse and wave at President Museveni as he made his way to Matugga in Wakiso District

She added: “Due to scarcity [of vaccines] on the African continent, we thought people (developed countries) who are manufacturing vaccines will share, [but] they are not.  They have vaccinated their people and vaccines will take long to reach us, so we are pushing a lot of African initiative.” 

The country has been faced with lack of a supplier for Covid-19 vaccine, leaving few doses available for the population.
It is currently depending on India, US, Russia, and Cuba, among other countries, for vaccines. 
Last month, Mr Museveni said government remains committed to funding research and innovations in the country. 
Uganda is currently working on Covid vaccines of which two of them are at animal trials.

According to government, Prof Niaz has given the country technology and rights of production. 
“He has been here to guide us so that we meet FDA standard. If we have FDA approval you, can sell your product even in US so we want a facility which is world standard,” Dr Musenero said.
However, she added that there are consultants from other parts of the world that have been involved.