UGANDA—Following a drop in demand for the vaccines, Uganda is preparing to destroy expired COVID-19 vaccines worth US$7.4 million, with more supplies expected to expire by next year, an official has disclosed.

The vaccines were imported using a World Bank loan, and over half of the existing supply of roughly 12.6 million doses has expired, according to Uganda’s auditor general, John Muwanga.

This report submitted to parliament on Tuesday, January 9, show that the expired COVID-19 vaccines was valued at 28.159 billion Ugandan shillings (US$7.4 million) at the reporting date.

This information was made public by Moses Kamabare, executive director of Uganda’s National Medical Stores, which distributes supplies to all public health facilities in the country, to AFP, an internal media agency.

Although the authority has not recently received orders for the COVID-19 vaccines, he stated that if there is no demand from health facilities, it is predicted that additional vaccines would expire in stores, which sadly involves significant sums of money.

According to Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng, 59% of Uganda’s eligible population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

According to a study titled “Uptake of COVID-19 vaccines and associated factors among adults in Uganda: a cross-sectional survey” by Ndejjo, Chen, and others, COVID-19 has caused significant illness and mortality worldwide and has negatively affected numerous socioeconomic sectors.

Over 488 million confirmed cases and 6.1 million deaths had been registered globally as of March 31, 2022, with Africa accounting for more than 11 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 251,953 deaths since the epidemic’s inception.

Uganda had 163,905 cumulative COVID-19 cases and 3596 confirmed deaths within the same time period.

Many countries employed non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) that limited movement, including lockdowns and curfews, in response to and on the suggestion of the WHO during the onset of the epidemic.

Several governments, both globally and in Africa, closed schools, places of worship, recreation centers, and public places, in addition to promoting regular hand and respiratory hygiene, wearing facemasks, guaranteeing physical and social distance, and working from home.

These public health and social policies had a considerable impact on the delivery of regular healthcare services, resulting in job losses, interrupted learning and formal and informal trade, and exacerbated gender-based violence and mental health disorders.

Vaccines have been used as important medicinal interventions to combat COVID-19 for over a year.

Uganda reported its first confirmed COVID-19 case on March 21, 2020, and got its first supply of COVID-19 vaccines one year later, in March 2021.

Initially, vaccination targeted high-risk populations such as health workers, teachers, security personnel, people over the age of 50, and those with comorbidities.

 Vaccination was made available to all Ugandans aged 18 and up beginning in August 2021, when the country got more vaccine doses.

Vaccines were primarily distributed through designated health facilities, outreaches, and mobile vaccination service stations, with the Ministry of Health (MoH) sponsoring media campaigns to mobilize communities for COVID-19 vaccination in collaboration with local government entities.

According to the Ministry, high vaccination coverage was vital for containing the pandemic, reopening the economy, and reversing the negative socioeconomic effects of the NPIs.

However, the expansion of vaccination eligibility was tarnished by unfavorable information and fears of vaccine reluctance.

The recent statement by the president of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) that COVID-19 will be phased out as a public health emergency in March 2023 is also cited as a major contributor to the present poor uptake.

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