Foreign Affairs minister Gen Jeje Odongo has asked rich countries to release patent rights protection on Covid-19 vaccines so that African countries can start to manufacture them locally and increase jab intake.
This comes amid repeated proclamations by President Museveni that the country’s scientists are working very hard to develop local Covid-19 vaccine.
Gen Odongo, in a special meeting with Mr Colm Brophy, the Ireland’s minister of State for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora last Friday at the ministry’s headquarters in Kampala, said foreign developers should waive restrictions on patent rights.
“Whereas the availability [of Covid-19 vaccines] is an issue, we in Africa think the capacity for us to manufacture the vaccines will be of great importance because then the availability can be sorted,” he said.
“….there are still challenges in protocols for institutions in Africa to produce the [Covid-19] vaccines. We would like to ask that within the World Trade Organisation, some understanding be reached so that the stringent regime [patent rights restrictions] can be relaxed to permit African countries to be able to produce these vaccines,” added.
Mr Brophy said he is in support “of increasing the availability” of Covid-19 vaccines in Uganda and Africa because the effective fight against the pandemic requires a collective effort by the world’s governments.
He said besides pushing for increased availability of vaccines, there is a need “to ensure that people are willing to take up the vaccines.”
Although some local experts are doubtful about the country’s capacity to manufacture vaccines even when developers of the vaccines give them permission, President Museveni in July laid a foundation stone for the multibillion Biological Drugs and mRNA Vaccine Manufacturing Facility at Matuga, Wakiso District.
At the launch, the President said Africa’s pathogenic economy, which offers huge economic opportunities, is being taken advantage off by others and Africa is totally absent.
Ireland on September 30 donated to Uganda 335,000 doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines.
The country has so far received about eight million doses of Covid-19 vaccines through donations and direct procurement. Of these vaccines, 3.08m doses have been administered, with the majority receiving only one dose out of the recommended two doses, according to the Ministry of Health.