Presidential Task force on Covid-19 co-chairperson Wilfred Chalamira-Nkhoma says about 210 000 Covid-19 doses could expire on New Year’s eve if uptake is still low.
He said the development has forced the Ministry of Health to scale up the vaccine administration by introducing door-to-door vaccination.
Chalamira-Nkhoma said this during a Zoom panel discussion organised by Society of Medical Doctors (SMD), Malawians Health Initiative and Malawi Diaspora Covid-19 Response Group.
The panel discussion aimed at sharing what health experts know about Omicron and Covid-19 fourth wave.
Chalamira-Nkhoma, who was among the five panellists, was responding to a concern raised by United States (US) based Malawian pulmonologist Daniel Dube on reports that about 700 000 Covid-19 vaccine doses were expected to expire on December 31 2021.
Dube wanted to know why Covid-19 vaccines expire when they are needed badly.
In his response, Chalamira-Nkhoma attributed the expiry of some Covid-19 vaccine doses to short shelf life and the misconceptions some Malawians have towards the vaccine.
He said: “As of last week, about 210 000 doses were expected to expire by December 31, and we are delivering village-to-village, door-to-door because we don’t have space to waste some of these doses.”
A United Kingdom-based Malawian consultant in communicable disease control James Chipwete suggested that the country needs to introduce booster vaccine like what the UK government has done.
He said the move will allow fully vaccinated people to get another vaccine to boost their immunity.
SMD president Victor Mithi said more needs to be done to ensure that the majority of the population gets vaccinated in the country.
He said the society conducted a survey and found that people are no longer listening to healthcare workers because they believe that they have been instructed to take community members’ lives.
Mithi said: “Levels of resistance will remain high and we can’t win this battle bedside. It needs to be won at the community by making sure that many people get vaccinated.”
Malawi targets to vaccinate 11 million or 60 percent of the population . As of yesterday, cumulatively, about 1 684 374 doses have been administered in the country with 660 596 people fully vaccinated.