The number of Malawians fully vaccinated against Covid-19 has reached 1 093 510, one year after the country rolled out the vaccine campaign on March 11 2021.
Public Health Institute of Malawi statistics show that as of Tuesday this week, 1 193 702 had received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccines with 2 784 people having taken the Covid-19 booster dose.
This means Malawi has vaccinated 4.5 percent of the 11 million or roughly 60 percent of the target population.
Compared to neighbouring countries, Malawi lags behind on the vaccination exercise. For instance, Zambia has vaccinated 12.4 percent of its population, Tanzania 5.1 percent, Zimbabwe 24.2 percent and Mozambique 42.3 percent.
The Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 has since expressed concern over people’s resistance to uptake the vaccines, especially on the booster dose, which restores decreasing immunity and is administered after the primary series of vaccination.
Infectious diseases expert Dr Titus Divala said in an interview that at this point, hesitancy is expected because people have a widespread sense of safety from the virus for several reasons.
He said: “There is very little ongoing transmission and few if any hospitalisations and deaths. Globally, things are changing towards living with the virus with restrictions being lifted and everyone feeling more relaxed about Covid-19.”
He said the national response should therefore work on enlightening the public, especially on highlighting that another wave is imminent that will likely be driven by new variants.
In a separate interview, Malawi University of Science and Technology microbiologist Gama Bandawe described people’s hesitancy as a big issue.
He said people need to understand that with every subsequent wave, the virus changes, as such, vaccines, especially the booster dose, remains an important public health intervention.
As of Tuesday, 81 922 recoveries were reported with 85 729 cumulative cases. With 569 471 tests conducted, the pandemic has so far claimed 2 632 deaths.
While local transmissions have been dominating, Malawi’s overall positivity rate is 0.51 percent with the weekly positivity rate at 1.0 percent.