Uganda has the capacity to store Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine which need to be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius, a high ranking government official said this Sunday.
“At National Medical Stores (NMS), we have the capacity to store Pfizer vaccines,” said the government medical agency’s General Manager Moses Kamabare.
“We are already storing Ebola vaccines at – 80 degrees centigrade. Yes, we can store Pfizer which is kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius,” he added.
Kamabare spoke during a virtual media engagement with social media enthusiasts via the SheilaDigiTalks forum moderated by NMS’ Principal Public Relations Officer, Sheila Nduhukire.
The revelation comes at a time Uganda is ordering for millions of vaccines to combat the deadly pandemic which has so far claimed over 2,000 lives since March 2020.
NMS has the largest cold chain storage in East and Central Africa, storing medicines and vaccines for domestic distribution and vaccines belonging to international organizations.
NMS currently distributes medicines procured by the Government and its development partners, such as USAID, Global Fund, UNICEF and GAVI among others, to all public health facilities in the country.
“All these international institutions bring their medicine here (Entebbe). We keep them in our cold storage rooms and distribute it for them,” said Kamabare.
Ebola vaccines are stored at – 80 degrees centigrade.
NMS has vehicles which have refrigerators which have been transporting Ebola vaccines to Kasese and even DRC on behalf of international health organizations such as World Health Organisation.
Besides Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson, Health Minister Ruth Aceng intimated said government had also ordered another nine million jabs from Covax facility although the type is not spelt out.
Uganda is yet to order for Pfizer vaccines after President Museveni expressed concern over their storage and handling requirements.
The Pfizer vaccines need an ultra-cold freezer, thermal shipping container, freezer, or refrigerator.
Based on evidence from clinical trials in people 16 years and older, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 95% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 in people who received two doses and had no evidence of being previously infected.
In clinical trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was also highly effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection in adolescents 12–15 years old, and the immune response in people 12–15 years old was at least as strong as the immune response in people 16–25 years old.
The vaccine was also highly effective in clinical trials at preventing COVID-19 among people with underlying medical conditions.
Kamabare said the decision to order for Pfizer “has to be made at the highest level.”