NAMIBIA has received its first-ever consignment of the COVID-19 vaccine which came in the form of relief aid from the People’s Republic of China.
The 100 000 ampules of the Sinopharm SARS-CoV2 vaccine arrived in the country on Wednesday afternoon with the Zimbabwean Government providing assistance to Namibia by delivering the vaccines from Beijing to Windhoek with its national airline, Air Zimbabwe.
Speaking at the event which was attended by a large number of dignitaries from Namibia, China as well as Zimbabwe, the Chinese ambassador to Namibia, Zhang Yiming stated that China has carried out vaccine research, development, and production while cooperating with a dozen or so countries, and 17 Chinese vaccines have entered clinical trials. He added that despite difficulties such as limitation of production capacity, China has joined COVAX, with the commitment to provide an initial 10 million doses for emergency use in developing countries.
So far China has donated or is donating COVID-19 vaccines to 69 developing countries, including Namibia. Zimbabwe is the first African country to benefit from the Chinese vaccine.
“The safety and effectiveness of Chinese vaccines have already earned recognition across the world. To date, more than 64 million Chinese citizens have been vaccinated,” Yiming stated.
Also speaking at the event, the minister of health and social services, Dr. Kalumbi Shangula stated that the health authority’s work will start immediately, guided by a well-articulated plan of action.
He added that vaccination in Namibia will be conducted in phases and will be rolled out under the auspices of the existing Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), latching on to the existing infrastructure, human resources, and experience.
“Vaccination will start in two regions, namely Khomas Region and Erongo Region. As it will be recalled, these two regions have, at different times, been classified as epicentres of the COVID-19 pandemic in Namibia” Dr. Shangula said.
The target populations include frontline health care workers, community health workers, persons who are aged between 18 and 59 years, persons in close settings and those operating cross-border transportation (truck drivers, pilots, cross-border public transport bus drivers), employees at ports of entry, police officers, journalists, members of the diplomatic corps, workers in the mining and fishery sector, religious and traditional leaders, people with disabilities, minorities, and refugees will be prioritized in Phase I of the immunization campaign.
Persons with co-morbidities, those older than 60, as well as pregnant and lactating women will be excluded, to allow the country to obtain more data on the use of the Sinopharm vaccine.
Dr. Shangula said the Sinopharm SARS-CoV2 Vaccine will be used in Phase 1. It is a two-dose vaccine, of 0.5ml, administered on Day 1 and Day 28.
Individuals that test positive for COVID-19 must wait for 90 days before receiving their first dose. The vaccine has been rolled out in countries such as China, Seychelles, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, and Zimbabwe to name but a few.