Health

March 9, 2021

Brazil starts production of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Uganda will import five million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines next month after the discovery of new COVID-19 variants in the country, President Yoweri Museveni has said. In a televised address to the nation late Friday, Museveni said the vaccines will be used to vaccinate at least 80 per cent of the 5.5 million elderly. People below 50 years, with underlying medical conditions that are at high risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, will also be vaccinated. Uganda targets to vaccinate more than 21.9 million people who face the highest risk of the infection, including the health workers, teachers, social workers and security personnel, elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. “The government is working hard to ensure we bring another five million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine before the end of May to complete the threshold vaccination and ensure that those vaccinated before getting the second booster dose,’’ said Museveni. “Vaccines are the most effective intervention we have against COVID-19. “The government and partners are working hard to bring vaccines to most adult Ugandans to protect them and to support us to reopen the economy and get back all our children to school.’’ Henry Mwebesa, Director-General of Health Services, last week said Uganda is scheduled to receive some two million more doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in May through the COVAX facility. Uganda has so far received 964,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX vaccine sharing programme and the Indian government. As of April 16, a total of 220,893 people had been inoculated with the first jab of AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19, according to the Ministry of Health statistics. The country has reported the emergence of the highly transmissible COVID-19 variants which were first reported in Britain, South Africa and Nigeria. The ministry’s data showed that as of April 16, Uganda had registered a cumulative total of 41,340 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 40,898 recoveries and 338 deaths.

Brazil started large-scale production of the AstraZeneca vaccine at the country’s key Fiocruz research facility in Rio de Janeiro, according to local media reports on Tuesday.

The vaccine produced with drugs imported from China has passed the necessary tests and 3.8 million doses can be expected to be handed over to the Health Ministry in Brasilia by the end of March.

The recent arrival of a shipment of raw materials to make 12.2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine had raised new hopes for a vaccination breakthrough amid the rapid spread of the coronavirus in Brazil.

With Fiocruz, Brazil has a vaccine factory that is considered the largest in Latin America.

By the middle of the year, Fiocruz wants to produce a good 110 million doses of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine using imported pharmaceuticals.

In the second half of the year, thanks to technology transfers, it will be able to produce a further 110 million doses completely independently.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 vaccine: Yahaya Bello standing on side of truth – Group

The South American country started vaccinations in January.

So far, more than 11 million people have been proven to be infected with the coronavirus in Brazil.

More than 266,000 patients have died as a result of the virus. Higher numbers have only been recorded in the United States and India.

Most recently, Brazil experienced its worst week in the pandemic to date, with around 10,000 coronavirus deaths in seven days. (dpa/NAN)

Vanguard News Nigeria