Health Journalism Network in Uganda, Africa Health Solutions Journalism Initiative and Science Africa organised the training



Dr Misaki Wayengera, the in-charge of the unit of genetics and genomics at Mulago hospital has assured the public that all Covid-19 vaccines being used for inoculation in Uganda are safe and effective.

“All these vaccines have undergone the necessary regulatory procedures and were permitted for use by the World Health Organisation,” he said.

Dr Wayengera stressed that it is not important for people to start making choices between vaccines since all of them are capable of offering protection against Covid-19 and prevent severe cases of hospitalization among those fully vaccinated.

He however backed a proposed study on mixing and matching Covid-19 vaccines saying that the outcome would help Uganda to optimize vaccine usage and address constraint brought by lack of control over access to vaccines.

“We have received vaccines from so many players. With these vaccines with us what guarantee do we have for sustainable use? We don’t have enough data on mixing vaccines,” he said.

The study, he suggested, would also focus on whether it is sufficient to half the dosage given to the people so as to immunize more people.

He added that people could also mix vaccines because of the issues of availability or lack of the vaccine they took during the first jab.

Dr Wayengera was addressing journalists attending a solutions journalism training for reporting Covid-19 at Fareway hotel in Kampala who were joined by other journalists from up-country, Kenya and Rwanda via a video link.

The Health Journalism Network in Uganda and Africa Health Solutions Journalism Initiative organized the two-day training.

Dr Wayengera said the only available data is on mixing AstraZeneca with Pfizer where it is found to be more effective to use AstraZeneca as the first dose and Pfizer as the second dose to trigger higher level of immunity to Covid-19.

The Ministry of Health standing policy on Covid-19 vaccination does not allow mixing and matching of vaccines due to lack of supporting data.

Dr Wayengera also contended that even the AstraZeneca and Pfizer study was done in the western countries and results simply fed to Africa and the rest of the world.

He recommended the local study to cover all the vaccines being used in Uganda or that are expected to be acquired for the inoculation programme- Moderna,  Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sinovac  and Johnson and Johnson and eventually Sinopharm.

He said the protocol for the study have already been developed but what is lacking is funds to facilitate the researchers.

Another constrain pointed out by Dr Wayengera was the difficulty in getting the manufacturing pharmaceutical companies to get involved in the study.

He also addressed concerns on the usage of herbal remedies such as Covidex and Vidicine for Covid -19 treatment when somebody contracts the infection after being vaccinated.

Dr Wayengera said the position of the health experts is that most many of the medicines used for treating people are plant based and the approved Ugandan herbal medicines have active ingredients for managing viral infections.

He however said a study will be undertaken to further analyze the safety profile and contraindication herbal medicines and it would be unfair to preempt the clinical trials before they are conducted.

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