The Minister of ICT and National Guidance Judith Nabakooba has revealed that Uganda expects to obtain the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine by May or June 2021.
The minister announced yesterday that once the vaccine in here, priority will be given to frontline medical workers, the elderly and people with existing health conditions.
Her statement however, is a departure to an earlier announcement by Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda that the Civid19 Vaccine will arrive in the country next March.
Rugunda told parliament that Uganda has already placed an order for 9million dozes which were expected to arrive within three months.
Nonetheless, Nabakooba told reporters yesterday that if the vaccines become available globally, they may arrive in the country earlier than June.
Currently, only the US based Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and Moderna, an American biotechnology company have manufactured COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved for use across the world.
Nabakooba told Ugandans on the other hand that if they contracted COVID-19 today, the changes of survival are getting slim.
“This is because all the treatment centres in public and private hospitals are full to capacity. The number of critically ill people that need oxygen has exceeded the available capacity,” she said.
Government, she said spends about 22 million shillings for every critically ill COVID-19 patient.
For private hospitals, critically ill COVID-19 patients spend about 5 million shillings daily in order to stay on oxygen.
“Even when you are admitted to the high dependency and Intensive Care Units (ICUs), the chances of survival are less than 50%. If you contract COVID-19 today and it progresses to critical stage, the possibility of death is certain,” Nabakooba said.
Meanwhile, announced that since Uganda embarked on the exercise of distributing face masks to Ugandans, a total of 29 million people have so far received masks.
The exercise to distribute face masks to all Ugandans was ordered by President Museveni in one of his COVID-19 addresses to the nation in May 2020.
Museveni ordered that every Ugandan above the age of 6 years gets face mask in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
However, at the end of August, the Ministry of Health announced that only 44 out of 146 districts across the country had received a total of 16 million out of 35 million masks meant to be distributed.
The Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng then issued an apology to the country saying the circumstances had been “beyond our control.”
Among the factors for delay, Aceng said was that since masks were meant to be sourced locally, there were challenges including material sourcing and production capacity which slowed down the speed of distribution.
“As of today, so far 29 million masks have been distributed out of the 35 million target set in June. The balance of 6 million will be made available to the public very soon,” said Nabakooba.
She reiterated her previous calls on members of the public who lack face masks and cannot afford to buy them, to keep away from public activities.
Nabakooba announced that efforts to procure 1000 more beds for high dependency units in public hospitals are underway.
The high dependency units, she said will accommodate critically ill patients that require 24-hour supply of oxygen.
Currently, Uganda is in stage 4 of COVID-19 transmission which is full community transmission.