Government has clarified that in spite of roving public speculation that all donated Covid-19 vaccines to the country are entirely free, taxpayers were parting away with US$5 for each given dose through couriering.
It means for the 372 000 Pfizer doses the country is expected to receive this month, announced by Secretary for Health Charles Mwansambo, government will spend roughly around US$1 860 000 (about K9, 300, 000).
State House director of communication, Sean Kampondeni, said on Monday at Kamuzu Palace during the routine weekly briefing that in essence the vaccines were not necessarily free.
“We get them for free from donors, of course. But government has to pay for their transportation to reach here. For each dose government has to pay US$5. That means that if we are going to get a million doses, it means we will have to pay US$5 million dollars for them,” Kampondeni said.
He emphasized that it was President Lazarus Chakwera’s intention to make sure that the doses could be development within Africa for easy access.
“The President has spoken intensively about the same as chairperson of SADC as well as when he was in London a few months ago,” he said.
Malawi is expected to receive its first batch of Pfizer vaccine this month, making it the third brand of Covid vaccines being administered to people.
According to Mwansambo, the expected batch will be on top of Oxford-AstraZeneca doses that are also expected into the country.
On September 8, the United States (US) government donated vaccine storage equipment that is being distributed to all districts across the country.
US-based United Parcel Service Foundation donated 30 state-of-the-art-ultra-cold chain equipment to be used for storing Pfizer vaccines.
US Ambassador to Malawi, Robert Scott, said his government was committed to fighting the Covid pandemic.
“One tool that we now bring to confront the pandemic is ultra-cold chain equipment. The common work that this donation will do is to facilitate a unique collaboration between the Ministry of Health and its partners,” Scott said.
The 30 portable freezers can store up to 6,000 vaccine doses at a temperature as low as 80 degrees Celsius.
The equipment, which is fitted with monitoring gadgets, would be used for carrying vaccine doses from storage facilities to vaccination sites.
Ministry of Health (MoH) spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe told local press that the latest instruction is that Pfizer doses can still be stored in normal refrigerators, so long as they are used within 30 days.
He said if the doses were to be stored for longer than 30 days, then they are supposed to be kept at a temperature as cold as -80 degrees Celsius.
However, Chikumbe said Malawi was yet to make a decision on whether Pfizer vaccine doses should also be given to those that are under 18 years, although other countries have started doing so.
“We know that, in other countries, Pfizer is also being given to those as young as 12 years old but, as for Malawi, we made a decision that we should start from those that are 18 years or older.
“Now that Pfizer has a different allowance in terms of age, we, as a nation, want to decide,” he said.
Last month, MoH Expanded Programme on Immunisation Manager, Dr Mike Chisema, said the ministry was working with United Nations Children’s Fund officials to purchase 1,600 litres of storage space to be used for storing Pfizer vaccine doses.
Currently, Malawi is using two brands of Covid vaccines: Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Oxford-AstraZeneca. The latter requires two doses while J&J and Pfizer vaccines require a person to get a single jab.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :