Andrew Kathindi

It has emerged that Namibia must spend around N$200 million on the COVID-19 vaccine that will only be made available to 20 percent of the population.

This comes as Ministry of Health and Social Services Executive Director Ben Nangombe revealed that the government, last week, already processed payment for the initial 15 percent of the fee, which came up to N$29 million following Treasury approval.

Nangombe told Windhoek Observer that he is unsure when the vaccine is likely to reach Namibia but that it was unlikely to be this year. Given that the vaccine has only been rolled out in the UK this week, there is a long way before international distribution will be available.

“There is no specific date. We are ordering through the COVAX Facility which will be using a pooled mechanism to procure the vaccine on behalf of member states.”

He further added, “It will not be coming this year, which is why we’re saying that people still need to comply with all the safety measures, because the vaccine is only targeted for 20 percent of the people.”

The 20 percent of Namibians the ministry has earmarked for the vaccine include health workers and those that are vulnerable.

This comes as Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old from the UK became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine (not as a part of a test) following its clinical approval.

Namibia signed up to participate in the COVAX Facility, an international initiative to facilitate access to a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We signed the Commitment Agreement with the COVAX Facility on 5 November 2020, to secure COVID-19 vaccine doses which are sufficient to vaccinate at least twenty percent of our population,” said Shangula.

He added, “The successful implementation of the vaccine, once it becomes available, requires support from all members of the public. On its part, Government will ensure sharing of factual data so that our people are provided with complete and accurate information on this important and lifesaving intervention. It is critical to combat falsehoods and fake news related to this matter.”

This comes as COVID-19 cases have been increasing in recent weeks. Minister Shangula announced another COVID-19 death, taking the tally to 153.

“We announce a COVID-19 death from Windhoek district. A 44-year-old female with underlying conditions presented at a private local health facility with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and tested positive for COVID-19 on the 4th of December 2020. She passed away on the 7 December 2020,” said Shangula.

Founding president Sam Nujoma was also, yesterday 7 December, hospitalized with after testing positive for COVID-19.

The country has to date had 15,298 cumulative confirmed cases.