Concerns have been raised over the high cost Uganda government reported cost of procuring 18 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, a price higher than what South Africa paid and more than three times what the European Union is paying for the same vaccine.
The government announced this week that it will pay $7 per dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine South Africa is paying $5.25 and the EU $2.16 from the Serum Institute of India after the cabinet gave the Health Ministry the go-ahead to procure the initial order of the vaccine.
The price Uganda is paying does not include international transportation and handling costs for the vaccine, which have been put at $3 per dose.
With this particular vaccine requiring two doses in 28 days’ interval, the total will be $17 per person for a full regimen, medical experts and the public have accused the Health Ministry of either inflating the price or negotiated a bad deal for the nation.
But Permanent Secretary Diana Atwiine told local media that the prices were tentative and are subject to reduction after negotiations with the manufacturer.
“At this time we cannot say this is the actual cost but it is for purposes of planning. We were guided by Gavi as we came up with those estimates,” Dr Atwiine said.
On Wednesday, the Health Ministry presented to the Parliamentary Budget Committee a supplementary request for Ush18.5 billion ($5 million) to purchase the vaccine.
The vaccine will be first administered to people aged 50 and above, those with underlying health conditions, health workers, security personnel, teachers and other essential social services providers.
Gavi has already confirmed Uganda’s allocation of 3,552,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of February or beginning of March under the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) facility.
Uganda joined the facility last month and will contribute $132 million while Gavi will contribute $142 million to buy vaccines that will immunise 60 per cent of the country’s 45 million people.