Deputy Minister of Health Chrissie Kanyasho says the arrival of new Covid-19 vaccine doses is an opportunity for Malawians to get vaccinated and stay protected from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The deputy minister was speaking at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe yesterday after receiving a consignment of 192 000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses funded by the government of France under the European Union (EU).
She said the doses have come at the right time when Covid-19 cases are rising.
Said Kanyasho: “The country experienced a complete stockout of Covid-19 vaccines. I would like to ask Malawians to go and get vaccinated. Those who got one dose [of AstraZeneca] should get the second one to get fully protected.”
She said the ministry will start distributing the vaccines this week and that government will be receiving more doses to increase the vaccinated population.
Kanyasho said the country will be receiving different types of vaccines, further advising Malawians to avoid combining the vaccines but stick to one type.
In total, the country is expected to receive 1 345 600 doses of assorted Covid-19 vaccines between now and September, secured through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) Facility.
In his remarks, EU head of cooperation Ivo Hoefkens said the vaccines delivery follows a decision by the EU heads of State to start sharing available surplus vaccines from Europe.
He said: “It is in the interest, of European nations to share the vaccines because as it is said, nobody is safe until everybody is safe. So, our support to Malawi is also in our own interest.”
Diana Chikuwa, who spoke on behalf of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) country representative, said the arrival of vaccines gives hope that children will be protected and it presents a brighter tomorrow for the children, bearing in mind disruptions the pandemic has had on education.
Covax is a global initiative intended to secure equitable access to vaccines and is led by the World Health Organisation and supported by partners such as the Global Alliance for Vaccines (Gavi) and Immunisation and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) and Unicef.
Ministry of Health Principal Secretary Charles Mwansambo said the country will receive an additional 119 200 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine before July end, while 302 400 doses of the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccine will follow within two weeks thereafter.
He said the J&J vaccines will comprise two separate consignments of 165 600 and 136 800 doses.
Malawi targets to vaccinate 11 million or 60 percent of the country’s critical population with the Covax Facility providing vaccines for 3.8 million people. Government said it would mobilise seven million doses to hit at least 11 million of the population to achieve herd immunity.