Despite growing concerns on the efficacy of the AstraZaneca vaccine to arrest further spread of the new variant in South Africa, the government of Malawi has announced it will not backtrack on plans to roll out the vaccine.
Health Minister Khumbize Chiponda and Information Minister Gospel Kazako have announced this during the Monday Presidential Taskforce update on COVID-19 situation in Malawi.
The announcement comes in the wake of a heated debate in the country on whether the country should adminster the vaccine or not.
This follows a study that has raised questions on the effectiveness of the vaccine on the South African variant which is currently spreading in Malawi.
Chiponda, who is also Co-chairperson of the taskforce said government will proceed with the process while silmuntaneously reviewing on whether the majority of COVID-19 cases spreading in the country are caused by South African variant.
She said that government has special committee of experts called Malawi Immunisation Technical Advisory Group which has been advising government in the processes of adminstering and settling for AstraZaneca vaccine.
“We are going through rigorous process to reach this far, reviewing on how government will adminster the vaccine. The safety of people is our priority, through the group of the special health experts we are assessing on what type of vaccine is to be introduced to Malawians.”
On his part, Kazako said that there is need of collective ideas on the decision on whether to use the vaccine or not, as the assesment will be based on science,
“We are grateful that people are now able to debate on the matter, it is very important that Malawians should discuss this,” said Kazako.
Malawi is expected to recieve its first consignment of vaccine in just a few next week.
President Dr Lazarus Chakwera recently announced that 1.5 million doses will cover 750 000 people, while additional consignment will ensure that 3.8 million people are vaccinated.
Chakwera said that government has settled for AstraZaneca because it has between 60 to 70 percent efficacy, also citing costs in comparison to other available options.
However, according to the BBC, the South African government on Sunday indicated it will suspend use of the vaccine being developed by Oxford University and AstraZaneca after researchers found it provided minimal protection against mild to moderate coronavirus infections caused by the new variant first detected in the country.
Malawi is among the countries that have been largely affected by the South African variant.