Proposed Importation of COVID-19 Vaccine for Chinese in Uganda Was a Hoax-MOH Officials

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Samples of the Vero Cell VaccineThe highly anticipated COVID-19 vaccine that was meant for Chinese nationals in Uganda has turned out to be a hoax, according to sources in the Health Ministry. In November last year, the Health Ministry gave the Chinese community in Uganda green light to import 4,000 doses of the Vero Cell COVID-19 vaccine for vaccinating Chinese nationals at the Liao Shen Industrial Park based in Kapeeka, Nakaseke district. 

According to the Ministry, the Chinese nationals were expected to import the vaccines through Sino Africa Medicines and Health Limited.  The Ministry explained that it had put in place measures to ensure Ugandans don’t access the vaccine, adding that the administration of the vaccine would be restricted within the Chinese embassy and the Chinese community in Kapeeka.  

However, months later, sources from the health the ministry, say the vaccine never entered the country. A source in the Health Ministry told URN on condition of the anonymity that they later realised that the person who wanted to import the vaccine didn’t have authority to do so and was only trying to make a quick buck.  

“It was a lie. There was no vaccine. A middle man who wanted to take advantage of the situation came and approached the ministry but we later discovered that there was no vaccine. The person wanted to take advantage,” the source said.  Dr. Alfred Driwale, the Programme Manager of Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunization-UNEPI told URN that they decided against using the vaccine since was not sufficient information about it.

“We decided against allowing the usage of the vaccine because we were not sure whether smart Ugandans would not get access to the vaccine yet we did not have enough information about it,” he said.  According to Driwale, the World Health Organization hasn’t reviewed the data surrounding the vaccine.

“The ministry did not want to bear the responsibility in case any unknown side effects of the vaccine were experienced by people who received the vaccine,” he said.  He, however, says the health ministry has decided to contact COVID-19 manufacturing companies and leave out middlemen during the procurement of vaccines. Uganda has ordered for 18 million vaccines of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India.  

Qui Xueyong, the general manager of Sino Africa told URN he wasn’t aware of the government’s decision not to use the vaccine.  “The plan to bring the vaccines is still on but our order has been delayed due to the high demand for the vaccines. We only want 8,000 vaccines that is a small order but we are still waiting for the vaccines,” Xueyong said. 

According to Xueyong, they have ordered for CoronaVac vaccine being manufactured by Sinovac Bio-pharmaceutical Company. The vaccine has been used in Saudi Arabia where trials have shown that it has an 86 percent efficacy against the virus.

Dr. Driwal reiterated that vaccination of persons living within the country will only occur using vaccines that have been approved by the WHO. To date, only Pfizer and the AstraZeneca vaccine have been recommended and approved by WHO for emergency use. 

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