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COVID-19 VACCINATIONS…NAMIBIA WORRIED ABOUT COVAX CUTBACK

PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

By: Justicia Shipena

The health ministry said it is concerned with the impact the cutback of vaccine delivery through the Covax facility will have on Namibia.

Covax is a worldwide initiative, launched last year to provide equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines. It is directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organisation.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that the Covax Facility has been forced to reduce its vaccine delivery to Africa by 150 million doses.

According to the health executive director Ben Nangombe, the ministry would like to see the country receiving the doses needed to reach herd immunity.

“Anything that goes towards negatively impacting the goal, will be of concern to us,” said Nangombe.

When asked about the number of vaccines the country planned on getting through the Covax Facility, Nangombe said; “I don’t have that figure right now.”

Currently, Africa faces a shortage of at least 500 million doses to reach the target of fully vaccinating 40% of its population.

According to the WHO, the Covax is now expected to deliver 470 million doses to Africa.

With the 470 million doses, only 17% of the African population will be vaccinated.

Former health minister Bernard Haufiku said the Covax platform has been a problem since the beginning.

“The major problem is that the major manufacturers were not part of Covax and that created a hole,” he told The Villager.

Haufiku added that Africa is trailing behind because they don’t manufacture any Covid-19 vaccines.

“It’s a hard lesson for the African Union members. They should put up a plan and put resources together to manufacture much of the needed medical supplies such as vaccines,” he said.

Haufiku said the slashing of delivery is not good news to any African countries however urged them to be innovative.

“You cannot hope to get access of vaccines ahead of the power countries. You have to produce yours. It’s not a lack of resources, have a lot of expertise,” he said.

Additionally, Namibia received a donation of 100 620 doses of the Pfizer vaccines from the United States of America on Monday.

Speaking during the donation, health minister Kalumbi Shangula said the availability of vaccines reached low levels three months into the vaccination campaign.

“The delivery of vaccine doses that the government had procured were repeatedly delayed. This led to a situation where vaccination had to be briefly paused at some sites around the country,” he said.

Shangula added that the Pfizer vaccines will be made available at Covid-19 vaccination sites across the country.

“Due to stringent cold chain storage requirements and the imperative of reducing potential exposure to high temperatures, different Regions and districts will announce and inform the public about the sites where the Pfizer vaccine will be available.”

Justicia Shipena

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