Coronavirus vaccines donated by Belgium arrived in Uganda

Coronavirus vaccines donated by Belgium arrived in Uganda
The donated vaccines upon arrival in Uganda. Credit: Enabel

Belgium has donated 153,900 coronavirus vaccines to Uganda specifically to help step up the vaccination campaign for teachers so schools can be reopened to more than 10 million pupils.

The donation was in response to the Ugandan government's request for assistance from the European Union to receive Covid-19 vaccines, specifically to administer the second dose of AstraZeneca to vaccinate the 162,026 teachers who received the first dose.

"By vaccinating teachers we contribute to providing renewed access to education for as many children, youngsters and students in Uganda, as quickly as possible," Minister of Development Cooperation, Meryame Kitir said.

Uganda has experienced a new wave of coronavirus infections in recent months, and as a result of the low vaccination rate - according to Our Wold in Data, just 0.9% of the total population has been fully vaccinated - and the low availability of vaccines, it had to take drastic measures, including closing schools.

According to Enabel - the Belgian Development Agency in charge of logistics and coordination with the Ugandan authorities - the impact on students in primary and secondary education has been particularly severe, as they have not been to school for 18 months.

Meanwhile, distance learning is hardly possible due to the lack of equipment and internet connection.

Solidarity 'needed to exit crisis'

Uganda has asked for an additional 100,000 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be donated so teachers in rural areas can be given full protection without having to transport themselves twice.

Kitir said Belgium's focus for the next deliveries and donations should be on Africa and more specifically on its African partner countries, where access to vaccines is sorely lacking.

"We can be very proud of the high vaccination coverage in our country. But at the same time, I remain very concerned because many people in vulnerable countries do not have access to a vaccine," she said.

"This virus has no borders. International solidarity and cooperation is the only way out of this health crisis. We will only be safe when everyone is safe," Kitir added.

In the coming weeks, another 190,000 Astra-Zeneca vaccines donated by the Belgian government will be transported from the country within the framework of the COVAX initiative, in cooperation with UNICEF.

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