National Medical Stores Receives 175,200 COVID-19 Vaccines

National Medical Stores (NMS) has today received 175,200 COVID-19 vaccines from the Ministry of Health.

The AstraZeneca vaccines will be stored at the NMS headquarters in Entebbe. NMS’ mandate is to procure, store and deliver drugs mainly to public health facilities.

The Minister of Health Dr Ruth Aceng received the vaccines from the donors – the French government represented by Ambassador Jules-Armand before handing over the consignment to NMS at the NMS Headquarters.

The vaccines were delivered by a KLM flight which landed at Entebbe International Airport at 10:00pm.

This is the third consignment of COVID-19 vaccines to be received, stored and distributed by the NMS since March 2021.

NMS General Manager Moses Kamabare said: “Last night, NMS received 175,200 COVID-19 vaccines. These are part of the COVAX facility vaccines that came into the country at 10pm.”

“We have already brought these vaccines from the airport to NMS – our central vaccines store.”

Transportation and delivery of vaccines will commence immediately after NMS has received the distribution list from the Health Ministry.

“That’s when we will know how many vaccines, how many doses to which place. As soon as we receive that distribution list, NMS will be starting the distribution immediately tomorrow morning to all parts of the country that Ministry of Health will have directed us to deliver to.”

The COVAX Facility is the global pooled procurement mechanism for COVID-19 vaccines through which COVAX will ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines for all 190 participating economies, using an allocation framework formulated by WHO

The vaccines come at a time the country is grappling with a surging number of COVID-19 cases. The Ministry of Health is reporting a daily average of 1,000 COVID-19 cases.

The new doses bring to 1,139,200, the total number of COVID-19 doses received by Uganda since March 2021.

NMS has a modern 7,200sqm warehouse at Entebbe (present location) which is used for the orderly receipt, storage and packing of medical supplies destined to GOU Health facilities. Probably, they may have invested in various medical refrigerator freezers and other devices to store these vaccines at the required temperature.

French Ambassador to Uganda, Jules-Armand Aniambossou, hailed the good relations between Kampala and Paris.

“I am very glad to be part of this ceremony. This country did well in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the situation currently is difficult,” he said.

“It’s our common responsibility to tackle this issue,” he added.

Minister Aceng thanked the donors for the goodwill gesture. She said the donation was timely considering the country is struggling to cope with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“There are some Ugandans who have not yet received the vaccines. This is timely.

“I thank the French for organizing and giving 175,200 vaccines. I also thank COVAX for their commitment to ensure African countries including Uganda have access to vaccines. I thank WHO and UNICEF for ensuring the vaccines arrived safely. Once we receive the vaccines, the work is just beginning. I want to thank NMS for receiving the vaccines in the middle of the night and taking care of it very well. Ensure vaccines reach the last person by delivering it to districts,” she said.

She said out of the 964,000 does vaccines received by Uganda, 869,915 people have been vaccinated.

Dr Aceng said “every dose was utilized effectively. We have not heard any expiries.”

She emphasised that the arrival of vaccines was very timely since “we have already exhausted what we have. Everybody is looking forward to getting vaccinated.”

Aceng revealed that Uganda is expecting an extra 688,000 doses “very soon.”

She said COVID-19 continued to ravage the entire country.

“The number of admissions and death is so high,” said Aceng.

“In other words we are in state where we need all hands to address the pandemic. How did we get here? Ugandans were not listening. No amount of oxygen, no amount of vaccines or increase in ICU beds will get us out of this situation. The best vaccines is ourselves. We need to be responsible and follow COVID-19 prevention SOPS,” she added.

Aceng advised Ugandans to strictly observe the COVID-119 prevention measures such as cleaning your hands often with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub; maintaining a safe distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing; wearing a mask when physical distancing is not possible; avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth and staying home if you feel unwell.

Barbara Nel, Africa Region Country President, AstraZeneca, said: “The arrival of a further 175,200 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Kampala is very good news for the people of Uganda.

“On behalf of AstraZeneca, I would like to thank Dr. Aceng, our partners at the COVAX coalition, the World Health Organization, Gavi, CEPI and UNICEF for making this possible. Our vaccine accounts for 94.61% of COVAX supply to date, with more than 76.7 million doses delivered to 127 participating countries, including more than 38 African countries,” he added.

“All partners in the vaccine alliance are working round the clock to ensure that as many COVID-19 vaccines can get to African nations as soon as possible. Today’s arrival in Kampala demonstrates the value of governments, industry and others working together to address our continent’s urgent need.”

Eric Geno