Uganda struggles to buy COVID-19 vaccines amid second wave

As many richer countries move ahead with COVID-19 boosters, poorer nations continue to lag behind.

Since late May, Uganda has been gripped by a second wave of COVID-19, fuelled by the Delta variant. A spike in cases had overwhelmed hospitals and triggered shortages of key facilities including oxygen, beds and personal protective equipment. The country has struggled to procure vaccines in order to fulfil its goal of immunizing 22 million people. So far, Uganda has only received some 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and 300,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccines. As a result, just over a million people have received a jab out of the country’s 41 million population. Health officials throughout Africa’s 54 nations have repeatedly expressed disappointment as the world's wealthy nations continue to hoard vaccines whilst the African countries lag far behind in vaccination rollout.

Announcing the latest vaccination figures last week, Ugandan Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng said availability would continue to decide the speed of the national rollout. The urgency to obtain first and second doses in Uganda and across most poor countries contrasts sharply with richer countries now beginning to authorize booster shots. Dr. Misaki Wayengera, Uganda's COVID-19 incident manager, joined the WHO and other African Union countries in urging that vaccines be supplied to poorer countries, ahead of rolling out the third doses. It is said that roughly 58% of people in high-income countries had received at least one vaccine dose yet in low-income countries this number stood at just 1.3%. To date Uganda has recorded a total of 98,047 confirmed cases and 2,960 deaths as per data retrieved from the Africa CDC.