President Museveni yesterday said a locally developed Covid-19 vaccine will be ready by end of 2021 to help the country independently combat the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.
The country plans to vaccinate 21.9 million people but as of yesterday, only 843,039 people (3 per cent) had been vaccinated due to limited access to Covid-19 vaccines even as some developed countries have reportedly vaccinated up to half of their population. Vaccination exercise started on March 10.
Countries where Covid-19 vaccines are being developed are limiting or stopping the export of vaccines as they focus on their population against the early agenda of global equity for the vaccine.
While opening the World Health Summit 2021 in Kampala last evening, Mr Museveni said foreigners are undependable yet local scientists are in high gear to help the country out of the frustration.
“This selfishness in the world [where countries are refusing to share vaccines] is bad but it is also good, it wakes up Africans... Our researchers are now entering stage five and by November, they will be in stage eight. I can assure you that by the end of 2021, we shall no longer be waiting for outsiders to rescue us from mass deaths,” Mr Museveni said. Making a vaccine involves nine stages, but the World Health Organisation (WHO) can allow one phase to be skipped, according to Mr Museveni.
The vaccine is being developed by researchers from Makerere University and Uganda Virus Research Institute, according to the President.
He, however, said the country is open to purchase the vaccine from other countries in the meantime, and also buy raw materials for making vaccines from foreign countries.
Two weeks ago, Dr Monica Musenero, the Minister for Science, Technology and Innovations, told Daily Monitor that the country is developing three vaccines and that two of the vaccines have made “quite good progress.”
The summit, which has attracted global dignitaries on health and governance, was organised to discuss critical issues affecting health care in the continent and the globe.
It was organised by Makerere University in collaboration with the government and it will run up to Wednesday, June 30, according to organisers.
The summit is themed: “Achieving Sustainable Development Goals and Universal Health Coverage amidst the Covid-19 pandemic in Africa.”
In his address yesterday, Mr Museveni said the country has also developed kits for testing Covid-19 and that drugs for treating Covid-19 are also very promising.
“With the therapeutics [for Covid-19], one of our products has been tried on some patients and many of them have fully recovered. That is for one. For one/another, we target to reach 124 patients before we are sure the medicines treat Covid-19,” Mr Museveni said.
He appealed to scientists to speed up innovations in drug development to develop the country’s pharmaceutical sector.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director General, while addressing delegates at the Summit last evening, urged world governments to stop vaccine apartheid.