Ireland is to donate 335,500 AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses to Uganda as part of its commitment under the global Covax programme.
With concerns growing around global vaccine inequality among poorer economies, Covax aims to accelerate the development and manufacturing of vaccines, and to guarantee fair access.
"The donation represents the next step in Ireland's continued commitment to vaccine solidarity," Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said.
“This donation of vaccines builds on the recent Government commitment to contribute 1 million Covid-19 vaccines to the Covax global vaccine initiative.”
The initiative was established last year to ensure availability and to allow richer countries subsidise vaccine costs for poorer nations. It aims to distribute enough to help protect at least one-fifth of the population in 92 low to medium-income countries.
The US recently pledged the delivery of 500 million more Pfizer vaccines to other countries from next year, while French president Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday his country would double their commitment to 120 million.
However, while Covax began distributing doses at the end of February it is facing a supply shortfall. The World Health Organisation (WHO), which backs the programme, has called for a temporary moratorium on proposed booster shots so that crucial supplies can reach developing countries.
The Department of Health noted Ireland's close working relationship with Uganda going back to the mid-1990s.
"Uganda's ministry of health, supported by the embassy of Ireland, Unicef and [the] WHO has put in place an ambitious Covid-19 response plan," it said. "Our colleagues in Kampala are now poised and ready to receive and administer these doses to priority cohorts including health workers and educators."
Colm Brophy, Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid, said Ireland had committed to giving another million vaccine doses in the coming months, and more in 2022.
“In addition and through the Irish Aid budget, I have committed €7 million to Covax this year, which will also help accelerate vaccination efforts in low and middle income countries,” he said.