The National Medical Stores (NMS) that has for months stored and distributed doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines to 94 districts across the country says they have the capacity to store Pfizer Vaccines as well, the top officials said.
By Sunday, Uganda had vaccinated 1,058,084 people against the deadly virus using the AstraZeneca doses but their has been concern that NMS has no cold chain to handle the vaccine which requires ultra-low storage temperatures to remain effective.
“NMS warehouse facilities have the capacity to store Pfizer vaccines. We are already storing Ebola vaccines at – 80 degrees centigrade. Yes, we can store Pfizer. But that’s a decision which has to be made at the highest level,” General Manager Moses Kamabare revealed in a Zoom meeting with journalists.
This was a day before the ministry of health spokesperson revealed Uganda will this month receive some 647,010 doses of Pfizer vaccine from the World Health Organization COVAX facility to boost the country’s protection against COVID-19.
NMS currently stores Ebola vaccines for the entire African Continent (as and when outbreaks arise) on behalf of WHO, said Sheila Nduhukire, the NMS spokesperson.
Pfizer requires storage capacity of -70 degrees centigrade slightly below the capacity for Ebola vaccines at -80. Pfizer vaccine has an efficacy of 95 per cent, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) while the WHO rated the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine at 63 per cent.
Uganda has received a total of 1,139,200 COVID-19 vaccine doses since March from the COVAX facility and the Indian government, with the latest batch of 175,200 doses that arrived last week from France. However, from the 964,000 doses received in the last three months, over 840,000 people have so far been vaccinated.