- November 2, 2021
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Ugandan made Covid-19 vaccine is 70% complete
The Minister for Science, Technology and Innovations Dr. Monica Musenero has said Uganda has made good progress in manufacturing its own vaccine which is now 70% ready.
The minister on Tuesday told journalists that Uganda embarked on manufacturing four vaccines but noted that two of them are at 70% and 50% stages respectively.
“We subdivided the manufacturing into 10 steps and for the first vaccine which is most progressed, we are on the final stage of testing in animals which is the seventh step. There are multiple steps of testing in animals but we are on the final one,” Musenero said.
“After that stage, we shall go to the stage of manufacturing and testing in human beings for the most advanced vaccine we are working on. We hope to move on to manufacturing on an agreeable grade. ”
The minister explained that for the second vaccine, the process is on the fifth stage after encountering a few challenges that hindered the government from progressing well due to the absence of some key inputs along the process.
“We have kept waiting and waiting so as to be able to import them. What we thought we would get in one week of shipping and the process becomes long. This is partly because we never built systems for this and have to stop and build systems as we import. We hope to start stage six very soon.”
According to Dr.Musenero, the remaining two vaccines were developed to ensure government widens the country’s capacity and that they are not likely to reach stage seven or go out for use.
He said the two vaccines are being used to build the Ribonucleic acid (RNA) and vector technology which are useful for future purposes.
“The scientists are working day and night and we are soon going to see a Ugandan made vaccine contribute to fighting Covid.”
President Museveni in June told the World Health Summit 2021 in Kampala that by the end of this year, Uganda’s Covid vaccine will be ready.
“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,” Museveni said.
When asked about timelines for the rollout of the vaccine, Dr.Musenero insisted that there are processes being followed, adding that these can’t be rushed.
“I can’t give an exact date because there are processes which vary. We have estimated times but sometimes they change because these are biological processes. Within next year we should have at least one vaccine tested through clinical trials but when it will be on the market is another longer process because not everything is within our hands,” she said.
Asked whether the vaccine will still be relevant in the fight against Covid since Uganda will have received donations and procured enough vaccines to vaccinate all her citizens, Dr.Musenero underscored the role of the country’s own vaccine.
“This is like saying since my neighbour’s wife cooked and served me lunch, I shouldn’t get a wife. Uganda and all African countries must build their own capacity to produce these vaccines. Otherwise if we don’t take advantage of Covid and build capacity to produce vaccines, the next challenge is going to find us unready,” she said.
“A Ugandan vaccine is going to contribute to covid control because the way we see the disease going, in some countries they are going for a booster jab because the virus is continuously changing. Many new people are being born. Vaccines are not a one- off thing. They are continuous things. Our future lies in building our own capacity.”
She insisted that Covid has granted the country a rare opportunity to build its own capacity in a number of areas, vaccine manufacturing inclusive.