Nam receives Covax Facility vaccine after long wait
By Tracy Tafirenyika
NAMIBIA has finally received a total number of 24 000 doses of the long-awaited Covid vaccine, AstraZeneca, bought by the Namibian government as part of the country’s participation in the COVAX Facility.
The vaccines arrived last week Friday at the Hosea Kutako Airport and were transported to the Central Medical Stores where the Minister of Health, Dr Kalumbi Shangula finally received them.
Speaking at the handover ceremony of the vaccine, Shangula clarified the reason why AstraZeneca took a long time to arrive in Namibia stating that, getting the COVAX vaccine was not easy but was rather a long journey.
“Getting to this point has been a long journey. Namibia’s participation in the COVAX Facility started on September 18 2020, when we submitted a non-binding intention to participate in COVAX Facility. Three weeks later, at the beginning of November, we signed a Committed Purchase Agreement to procure 1 016 400 doses from the facility as a self-financing country, committing an amount of N$139.7 million. One month later in October, Namibia made a payment of N$29 million, amounting to 15 percent of our commitment. In December 2020, the Ministry of Health and Social Services submitted a financial guarantee to GAVI to pay the outstanding amount of US9 096 780 for the rest of the doses. In January 2021, Namibia received a letter from the COVAX Facility indicating that the country will receive between 127 200 and 213 600 indicative doses of AstraZeneca AD1222 from the COVAX Facility by mid or late February 2020.
“On February 15, the COVAX Facility informed Namibia that AstraZeneca vaccine has received emergency use listing from WHO and requested for Import License and Regulatory Approval for AstraZeneca. Two weeks later on 27 February, COVAX Facility informed the Ministry that Namibia is allocated 108 000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to be delivered through to May 2021. On March 01 2021, concerned about the delayed delivery of vaccines to Namibia from the Facility, the Ministry requests the COVAX Facility to clarify the delivery dates for the vaccines. The COVAX Facility informed the ministry that delivery will take place from March to May 2021. On March 26 2021 I held a meeting with the COVAX Facility in Geneva on the delivery of the vaccines in Geneva. The COVAX Facility could not commit to a definite date of delivery. However, on the 14 April 2021, I received an exciting message from Rachel Odede the UNICEF Country representative that the first batch of 24 000 doses of AstraZeneca out of 67 200 will arrive in Namibia this morning,” he said.
Shangula applauded organisations and individuals who worked to make the milestone possible.
“Our dedicated staff members, the development cooperation partners, officials from the COVAX Facility, the private sector and others who have walked with us and continue to walk with us on this difficult journey. The arrival of this vaccine in the country will go a long way to strengthen our Covid-19 response and preparedness in the country. Having launched Phase 1 of our vaccination campaign on 19 March, with the Sinopharm and Covishield vaccines donated by the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of India, and the addition of AstraZeneca, we are poised to roll out Phase 2 of the campaign on the 19 April 2021.
“To the people of Namibia, I would like to say, that this is just the first of more consignments that will be delivered in the coming months. Not only from the COVAX Facility but potentially from other manufacturers and suppliers, with who we have engaged. In this context, I call upon all eligible Namibians to make themselves available for vaccination so that we can break the backbone of the pandemic in our country and return Namibia to normalcy”.