Immunologist Dr Kondwani Jambo says it is practical that people who recovered from Covid-19 should at least get one dose of the vaccine, but delay the second dose instead of not getting it at all.
He said this on Thursday dur ing the s e cond international Covid-19 think-tank conference hosted virtually by College of Medicine (CoM) Health Economics and Policy Unit (Hepu) under the theme Promoting Equittable Access to Covid-19 Vaccine and Informing Preparedness of Covid-19 Third Wave.
Jambo, who works for the Malawi-Liverpool Wellcome Trust, was responding to a question on whether the country should wait for at least six months before vaccinating people who have had Covid-19, a position the government is advancing.
He said: “There are three vaccine options currently available. The first option is standard where you vaccinate [two doses] everybody regardless of whether they had infection or not.”
Jambo said the second option is where people who have had evidence of exposure to SARS-Cov-2 are vaccinated with one dose and the second dose is delayed as long as the health system can manage.
He said: “Then there is the third option which is what Malawi is trying to do—only vaccinating those that have not had Covid-19 before.
“I think the second option whereby you vaccinate even those that have had Covid, but with one dose and have a much delayed dose looks more practical from the data that’s available.”
While highlighting that side effects such as fatigue, headache, chills, muscle ache and fever are indeed slightly common or more common in the people that have had Covid-19 after they get vaccination, Jambo said none of these are life-threatening.
Making a presentation during the same conference, Public Health Institute of Malawi head Dr Benson Chilima said although there was
vaccine hesitancy at first, when vaccination rolled out on March 11, many Malawians have been eager to get vaccinated.
“The worry now is on how to sustain the supply because if we run out of the vaccine, it will cause trouble and start creating a new wave of hesitancy and misinformation,” he said.
Chilima said to avoid this, government has engaged all media houses in the country to discuss ahead of such a situation and the engagement is paying off.
On his part, Hepu director Professor Joseph Mfutso Bengo said despite that Covid-19 cases are currently going down in the country, there is a need to prepare for the third wave which is already affecting some countries across the globe.
Closing the conference on behalf of University of Malawi vice-chancellor Professor Alfred Mtenje, CoM acting principal Professor Mac Mallewa said Covid-19 has not spared the university.
He said: “It’s always a great pleasure to partner with the Ministry of Health and we would like to thank the ministry for inviting academia, particularly the University of Malawi, to be part of the response to the pandemic.”
By Saturday, 157 581 had taken the first jab of Oxford- AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in the country. There are about 500 000 jabs delivered to date