Uganda on Thursday received 1,200 doses of the Ebola trial vaccine to be used in a clinical trial aimed at fighting the Sudan strain of the virus that hit the country in September.
Ugandan Minister of Health Jane Ruth Aceng received the doses from the World Health Organization (WHO) at an event held at the state-owned National Medical Stores, 40 km south of the capital Kampala.
The minister said although the vaccine comes at a time when the Ebola outbreak is on the decline, research will continue to ensure the country is ready in case of any further outbreak.
Charles Njuguna, incident manager for the WHO Country Office in Uganda, who handed over the vaccines, said they have been tested in preliminary studies to determine their efficacy and safety.
"They will be administered to those at the greatest risk, the immediate contacts of a person who has been diagnosed with the Sudan virus disease," said Njuguna, adding that the participation in the trial is voluntary and free.
He said the arrival of the trial vaccine does not interfere with the country's other measures to contain the outbreak.
Bruce Kirenga, one of the co-investigators and also head of the Makerere University Lung Institute, said scientists are ready to carry out the trial.
WHO figures show that since the country declared the outbreak on Sept. 20, 142 confirmed cases and 55 deaths have been registered. So far, nine districts have been affected, but three of them have already gone beyond 42 days, a period after which a place can be declared Ebola-free if no case is reported.
Aceng said the country is still in an Ebola response mode, which will end on Jan. 10, 2023. If no case is reported, Aceng said the WHO will declare Uganda Ebola-free on Jan. 11, 2023. She noted that intense surveillance will continue for another 90 days after the WHO declaration.