WALVIS BAY - Namibia has ordered more Covid-19 vaccines with some expected to arrive within the next 10 days, while health authorities will divert doses from areas where uptake is slow to parts such as the coast and Windhoek where demand is high. This was confirmed by health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe yesterday.
Lawyer Richard Metcalfe, “on behalf of concerned citizens and health professionals” on Wednesday wrote to the health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula asking what government’s strategy is with the vaccinations as “it appears that these vaccinations ran out today in Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. Kindly urgently advise what your strategy is (regarding) these vaccinations.”
The group of 167 Namibians also wanted to know: “How many vaccinations are still presently available? What number of those vaccinations is going to be used to complete the second round of vaccinations? What remedy and/or medication does your ministry have available to substitute and/or supplement the vaccinations once they are no longer available for the entire population?
Has your ministry made any contingency plans to procure additional remedies and/or alternative remedies to vaccination?”
Yesterday, the Lady Pohamba Private Hospital in Windhoek announced on their Facebook page that they have run out of Sinopharm and asked those who preferred the Chinese-made inoculation to go to Katutura state hospital.
The private facility indicated they were waiting for the health ministry to fill up the stock. Nangombe who responded to questions on the reported shortage of vaccines, said available doses would be diverted from other regions to areas where demand is high to keep the vaccination campaign going.
According to Nangombe, Namibia still has enough of the Chinese-manufactured vaccine, Sinopharm, for those who prefer and are eligible to take it, as well the second dose of AstraZeneca for those who had already received their first jab. “The first dose of AstraZeneca is also still available. Only some towns ran out of it but it is a minor issue as we are in the process of diverting some of the doses from other regions so that they can be used where the demand is high,” Nangombe said yesterday. Nangombe further said the country has ordered additional vaccines, including 150 000 Sinopharm doses, way in advance from pharmaceutical companies and secured additional doses such as the Russian-made Sputnik. “We have already ordered 100 000 AstraZeneca vaccines, 80 000 from Johnson & Johnson as well as another 80 000 Sputnik vaccine doses. We also sourced additional vaccines through the African Union’s African Medical Supplies platform. However, the current challenge is delivery from the manufacturers,” Nangombe said. He explained orders from smaller countries continue to be put on hold as pharmaceutical companies mostly focus on orders from bigger clients. “You see, we are ordering 100 000 doses and another country orders a million doses; hence, pharmaceutical companies would rather focus on the big order that is why delivering the vaccines is a challenge,” Nangombe explained. Erongo governor Neville Andre yesterday said they have already engaged the ministry to divert some of the vaccines to the region. Andre appealed to residents in the region to practice social distancing, wash hands and always wear a mask. “It is encouraging to see that people are now keen to be vaccinated, unlike in the past. In the meantime, those that want Sinopharm can still get it at the Swakopmund state hospital and at the Welwitschia Private Hospital as it is still available,” he said. To date 110 597 Namibians received their first dose of Sinopharm and AstraZeneca. A total of 63 252 took AstraZeneca while 47 345 received Sinopharm. The fully vaccinated figure stands at 21 463. Shangula, in his daily Covid-19 update yesterday said, “we have noted with disbelief claims by anti-vaccine lobbyists that many people are dying because of vaccination. When we announce the deaths, we always indicate the vaccination status of the deceased. Today we have announced 55 deaths. None has been fully vaccinated. How can a person die of vaccination if he or she has not been vaccinated? We ask the anti-vaccine lobbyists to desist from misleading the nation.”