NAMIBIA has made progress in acquire a suitable COVID-19 vaccine and expects to rollout the vaccine by the end of February.
This was announced by the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Kalumbi Shangula, while stating that the government has already paid an amount of N$29 272 320 (US$1 626 240) to acquire vaccine doses enough to vaccine 20%, or 508 200 people, of the population through the COVAX Facility.
Dr. Shangula further stated that government also signed a Financial Commitment Agreement on 5 November 2020 for the remaining US$9 096 780.
“The facility informed us on 6 January 2021 that it may be in a position to initiate a small scale first wave of deliveries using the Pfizer vaccine as early as end of January or February. To achieve sufficient level of herd immunity, we need to achieve a coverage rate of 60-80% of the population,” Dr. Shangula said.
The health ministry will prioritize frontline healthcare workers and population groups vulnerable to severe COVID-19 disease once the vaccine become available.
The vaccine will be freely provided to the general population and will be carried out as an extended immunization process.
Dr. Shangula added that inventory of cold chain equipment for storage and distribution of the vaccine is almost complete, however, additional equipment for vaccine that requires extreme cold temperatures maybe needed.
He elaborated that apart from the COVAX Facility, there have been engagements with Pfizer on a bilateral basis, and that Namibia is in talks with China, Russia, India and other countries that are making great progress in the manufacturing of the COVID-19 vaccine for possible bilateral deals and/or donations.
Dr. Shangula stated that additional resources need to be secured for the acquisition of additional doses to vaccinate at least up to 60% of the population in order to achieve a desirable level of herd immunity and thus called on the medical aid industry to support beneficiaries of their medical aid schemes to access the vaccine.
He stated that government will also be engaging corporate Namibia for support.
“I have to acknowledge the support to date, that corporate Namibia has provided during the course of the pandemic, and once again call for the support of all peace-loving Namibians, our partners and friends, to join hands in ensuring access and introduction of the vaccine. In coordination with the Ministry of Finance, the NAMFISA and NAMAF, consultations have started to explore avenues to fund the vaccine. We will provide additional details in coming days.” Dr. Shangula said.
VACCINE: Picture for illustrative purposes only. Photo: aa.com