COVID-19: Rwanda ready to administer Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines

On 14 December 2020 at 10:42

The Minister of Health, Dr Daniel Ngamije has revealed that Rwanda has all the necessary facilities to receive, store and administer COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Moderna and AstraZeneca pharmaceuticals that used standard ingredients while more preparations are needed for Pfizer and BioNTech administration.

Dr Ngamije made the revelation yesterday during a live talk-show on Rwanda Television. He explained that Rwanda is among 96 countries prepared to acquire the vaccine through World Health Organization and COVAX, a global initiative aimed at working with vaccine producers to provide countries worldwide with equitable access to safe and effective vaccine once licensed and approved.

“We have been registered and submitted the request with detailed figures of needed vaccines. The more vaccines are produced, the more the organization liaises with producers to identify available vaccines to be distributed to countries that expressed interest,” he said.

“We shall cover 20% of Rwandans in the first phase through the United Nation’s system. It doesn’t exclude us from engaging in discussions with other countries that might provide us with vaccines even though we have not completed the feasibility study. It is however, possible to get them from partner countries,” added Ngamije.

He explained that Rwanda will be among first African countries receiving the vaccine once licensed and ready for distribution.

So far, the country is considering three vaccines mainly; mRNA-1273 produced by Moderna Inc. from the United States of America, BNT162b2 produced by respective factories from the United States of America and Germany as well as and Pfizer from the United Kingdom.

These vaccines require storage in special temperature conditions posing need for establishing strong storage systems as they are distributed to citizens.

“We meet several requirements especially for two of the three requested vaccines. We even have capacity to receive quite a number Pfizer vaccines at national level. As for such a vaccine that should be stored at -70 Celsius, it can be designated for areas where the temperatures a very cold and store it for at least three days in ordinary refrigerators designed for vaccines,” he said.

“This means, we are also able to use those vaccines with special storage conditions once available. As for Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines, we can’t buy refrigerators because they are available. We are training workers and identifying targeted people in the first phase. It is evident that we will attend to health workers at health centers and hospitals. We also have figures of people with chronic diseases but we must prepare to spot their locations,” added Ngamije.

He explained that they are conducting a census to establish locations of people with complicated respiratory diseases, diabetes among others to plan the distribution of vaccines accordingly once available.