Uganda has received the first 1200 doses of the Ebola vaccine manufactured by the Sabin Vaccine Institute in the United States.
According to Dr Jane Ruth Aceng the Health Minister, the doses which were received today Thursday will be administered to those at great risk. That is the immediate contact of a person who has been diagnosed with the Sudan Virus Disease (Ebola Sudan).
She noted that participation in the trials will be voluntary and free.
“Uganda is the first country to receive trial vaccines in record time. We take note that the vaccines for Ebola Sudan were not ready from any manufacturer but a lot of research and development had taken place. and when we put in our request, they had to start running the race and today we are happy that we have the first batch of 1200 doses from the Sabin Institute,” says Dr Aceng.
She added that more vaccines will come from MAC and Oxford. She also noted that despite the country not having an active Ebola case at the moment, that does not mean that there won’t be a new case in the next 9 days.
She further applauded her teams, the partners and the communities of Uganda for showing resilience in responding to epidemics. In a special way, she appreciated the teams that worked in Mubende and Kassanda the epicentres.
“Uganda is a country that always wants to be prepared and ready whenever any outbreak occurs. And you have seen the preparedness demonstrated in handling this Ebola epidemic. Many people including the international community predicted that this Ebola outbreak would blow out of proportion it would be exported and Uganda would fail to handle it,” says Minister Aceng.
The minister added that the country remains in response mode until after 42 days which will end on January 10th 2023. And that if WHO gives a clearance, Uganda will have a declaration on 11th January.
“After the declaration, it does not mean we shall tell the population that they can have a heyday and do whatever they want. No, we continue with intense surveillance for another 90 days,” she said.
Dr Aceng says that even when there are no cases, contacts or suspects, the Ministry of Health will request scientists to continue with the study because Uganda so far has had 7 Ebola outbreaks and there is a possibility of getting another one.
“We are only lucky that we had a period of 10 years from the last outbreak we had in Kibaale to this outbreak. But moving forward, we need to be more prepared with public health tools including; vaccines and therapeutics. As responders continue with their work, scientists must also continue with their research. I have confidence in our scientists,” she said.
According to Dr Annet Kisaakye the Immunization Officer at WHO, they have registered some side effects from the use of the Ebola vaccines. These include; pain at the site of injection and swelling, while other volunteers developed a fever, headache or muscle and back pains.
“They are short-lived within 24 hours to 48 hours. And all our participants who are going to be vaccinated will be given at least two doses of paracetamol. We will be emphasizing that they do not take any other painkiller apart from paracetamol,” says Dr Kisaakye.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, Uganda has recorded a total of 142 confirmed cases and 55 deaths. Since then, 9 districts have been affected, and three of them have completed the 42-day follow-up (Kagadi, Kyegegwa and Bunyangabu).