President Lazarus Chakwera on Sunday evening announced that Malawi– has finally secured doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine which government will give to “as many citizens as possible” for immunity against the Coronavirus (Covid-19).
Chakwera disclosed this on Sunday evening when he addressed the nation on the ongoing war against the Covid-19 pandemic, describing the acquisition of the vaccine as a breakthrough in the raging fight.
“The first consignment of the vaccine will arrive at the end of February in readiness for roll out in March, starting with 20 percent of the population, which will prioritize frontline workers, the elderly and those with underlying conditions,” said Chakwera.
President Chakwera said Malawi’s scientists in local labs will verify the safety of AstraZeneca’s Covid jab and said he will disseminate the information “so that no one is misled by social media lies and propaganda against vaccinations that the scientific community has worked hard to provide to save lives.”
In his address, aired live on state broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, Chakwera also announced that, for the first time, Malawi’s scientists at the Malawi Liverpool Welcome Trust (MLW) lab at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre now have the capacity to sequence the virus that causes Covid-19, a development he described as another breakthrough in the fight against the pandemic.
He added that Malawi has partnered with the African and US Centres for Disease Control to bring the same capacity to the National Public Health lab in Lilongwe.
“Being able to sequence the virus will reduce our reliance on labs in South Africa for that service. As a demonstration of the significance of this viral sequencing capacity, it has been confirmed that the new strain of the virus from South Africa is indeed here in Malawi,” said Chakwera.
Chakwera said it was right to treat the new wave with the seriousness it demanded and stay the course in preventing it from spreading.
The President further said he has directed the Ministry of Health to ensure that “our scientists at the Malawi College of Medicine are fully engaged in these developments within our labs”.
He said: “Taking ownership of our own scientific research into this virus is not only important for national pride, but also for national security in ensuring the credibility and safety of policies and programs that Government implements. One practical example where our scientists will be needed as a security measure is in the roll out of the acquired vaccine.”
The Malawi leader then paid tribute to people who have succumbed to Covid-19, saying “we devote ourselves to honour their memory by complying with the measures for stopping this virus from spreading”.
President Chakwera said the past week alone, the country lost 161 people to Covid-19 including legendary musician Mtebeti Wambali Mkandawire.
Paying his tribute, Chakwera described Wambali as “Malawi’s greatest musical icon and champion of her cultural heritage.”
He said: “We join the bereaved families of all 161 people in mourning their passing.”
During the same address, President Chakwera also updated the nation on the progress the country has made on testing, containment and treatment of Covid-19.
For instance, on testing, the President said out of the 77 testing sites he ordered to be established, he reported that 62 have been completed, while 51 500 testing kits have been distributed countrywide.
“We have also stocked our warehouse with 150 000 testing kits, which will last us the whole month of February while a new consignment is on the way,” he said.
And on treatment, Chakwera had this to say, “last week I announced that we would be recruiting an additional 1 380 medical personnel to send to the frontlines of the fight. I am happy to report that 1 128 of these have been identified, and they will be receiving their letters of appointment in the next 48 hours, while interviews continue to recruit the remaining 252.
“Today we have opened the field hospital at Bingu National Stadium with 240 beds. In fact, 80 patients from Bwaila Hospital and KCH have already been transferred there and are receiving high-quality life-saving care as we speak. We owe our thanks for this accomplishment to the Malawi Engineering Institution”.
Meanwhile, commentators have urged government to open dialogue and intensify awareness on vaccine saying its acceptance is influence by several factors.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :