A new study by Makerere University scientists indicates that stepped-up vaccination efforts against Covid-19 during the second wave helped to slow down the disease-related deaths.
The study was conducted between May and June 2021, by researchers working under the Institute’s Research and Innovation Fund (RIF), using data collected from 1462 patients admitted at the country’s largest treatment centres in the capital Kampala, that is to say; Mulago referral hospital and Kawempe Hospital.
Before the second wave descended on Uganda, the ministry of health had in its inventory, about 2 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses, and Sinovac supplied by China as a result of a multi-pronged approach by the government towards vaccine acquisition.
In a bid to fully utilise these dozes before expiring, the government embarked on a grand campaign of sensitising the populace about the benefits of taking jabs. Public service advertisements were published in newspapers, and also broadcast on Television and radio stations to encourage its citizens to take part in vaccination.
Most emphasis was put on vaccinating public service workers in high-risk sectors like health, education, security and other groups like the elderly. This saw the minister of health Hon. Dr Jane Ruth Acheng take her first jab on March 10th, 2021, together with the health ministry permanent secretary Dr Diana Atwine, after which the latter reiterated safety of vaccines for use by all Ugandans.
Such unrelenting efforts by the government to have its citizens vaccinated are said to have reduced Covid-19 deaths during the second wave, according to the study. For instance, it was revealed that there were no deaths among the fully vaccinated citizens during the research period. The study also indicated that fewer deaths were reported among the partially vaccinated. Important still, cases among the partially vaccinated were not serious and no one needed a ventilator, according to the study.
The study, conducted during the second wave when infections were too high to the extent of threatening to overwhelm the country’s health system also indicated that 45% of fully vaccinated patients are less likely to die during hospitalizations. Uganda has recorded a total of 3176 deaths since the pandemic began.
Speaking to a one M/s Nyaruwa Elizabeth, a specialised nurse at Makerere University Hospital, who is also charged with the responsibility of vaccinating students, she toed the scientists’ line. “When people rushed to be vaccinated, Covid-19 infection rate reduced,” said Ms Elizabeth.
She added on to say that even cases among the partially vaccinated patients were mild, that is to say; not so serious. According to her, of the partially vaccinated people who contracted the disease, no one needed a ventilator. “Partially and fully vaccinated people who got infected, no one was put on a ventilator,” she said. She urged all Uganda citizens to increasingly take an active part in vaccination due to the fact that it reduces deaths and hospital admissions.
We also reached out to members of the public to find out their views on the study that is being published by scientists. Talking to Mukimba Lydia, a third-year student doing Bachelor of Education at Makerere University, she also seemed to agree with the scientists. She asserted that rapid vaccination during the second wave was instrumental in halting Covid-19 cases and deaths.
“The vaccines helped to reduce deaths and hospitalizations……and I got to know this information by reading newspapers like new vision, and also our lecturers who kept on telling us about the effectiveness of vaccines,” said M/s Mukimba. She also stressed the need by the government to involve the police force in getting the majority of the population vaccinated, and also introducing fines for those who deliberately boycott the vaccination process.
The scientists’ study is being published at a time when the government is ramping up its efforts to reach a vaccination target of 4.8 million people by December 2021, as a precursor to the reopening of secondary and primary schools. At the moment, the country is said to have vaccinated about 2 million of its citizens.
Mourice Muhoozi is a second-year student of Journalism and Communication at Makerere University.
Do you have a story in your community or an opinion to share with us: Email us at email@example.com