Uganda and Mali on Friday received their first batches of AstraZeneca vaccine donations from the COVAX Facility, a UN initiative to ensure COVID-19 vaccine access to the world's most vulnerable.
The first doses in the landlocked country of Uganda will be used to vaccinate people who are most vulnerable and those at more risk such as healthcare workers, security personnel, teachers, and other essential social service providers, said the country's health minister.
The Ugandan Health Ministry says it will administer the AstraZeneca vaccine eight weeks apart despite studies showing that a gap of 12 weeks leads to higher efficacy.
Uganda has so far reported 40,426 COVID-19 cases and 334 deaths – a much lower toll than in most countries due experts say to years of experience battling other viral outbreaks such as HIV/Aids and Ebola.
There are over 3.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent, with more than 3 million recoveries and 92,000 deaths cumulatively.
Some 396,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine also arrived in the West African country of Mali.
According to Malian authorities, just over 8 million doses are expected by the end of March, and the country’s vaccination campaign is set to start in April.
For the campaign, Mali got financial contributions from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization and the World Bank, officials said in January.