Shangula looking beyond Covax for vaccine

20 January 2021 | Health

OGONE TLHAGE

WINDHOEK

Namibia is looking beyond the Covax facility to procure additional stock of Covid-19 vaccine, health minister Kalumbi Shangula has said.

The Covax facility, an initiative of the World Health Organisation, was introduced to assist poor and middle-income countries in procuring the highly sought-after vaccine which is being rolled out in various first world countries, including the United States, Britain and France.

Namibia is expected to get its first batch of Covid-19 vaccine through the Covax facility, which will be used to protect front-line health workers and vulnerable persons primarily.

Commitment

Namibia has so far paid N$29 million of the N$169.5 million required by the facility.

The vaccines on order are enough to immunise approximately 508 200 people, or 20% of the population.

This falls short of the 60% to 80% of the population that needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. To overcome this stumbling block, Shangula said other manufacturers were being considered.

“We are speaking to all the manufacturers and looking beyond the Covax facility for the vaccine,” he said briefly upon enquiry.

Manufacturers whose vaccines have been approved for use include Pfizer BionTech, Moderna and Oxford AstraZenaca, while the Russian government has produced the Sputnik V vaccine.

The African Union has secured 270 million doses of vaccine through the Covax facility for the continent’s 54 states.

Funding requirements

Shangula could not say when additional batches would arrive, nor how the government intended to fund these purchases.

Meanwhile, at the latest briefing on the government’s response to Covid-19, Shangula said discussions were being held with the Namibia Financial Institution Supervisory Authority and the Namibia Association of Medical Aids to fund additional purchases of vaccine.

“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,” Shangula said.

He added that the ministry of finance, in conjunction with Namfisa and Namaf, are exploring avenues to fund the vaccine.

“We will provide additional details in the coming days,” he said.

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