Health ministry rules out test for Chinese vaccine

Maria Hamutenya

Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS) says no compatibility tests will be made on the donated Chinese vaccine, which is set to arrive in Namibia soon.

This comes after the Chines Ambassador Zhang Yiming yesterday, (Thursday) announced that it will be donating 100 000 Covid-19 vaccine doses on the request of the Namibian government.

Despite findings that another Covid-19 drug developed by AstraZeneca and also due to arrive in Namibia at the end of the month under the COVAX facility is less effective on the new Covid strain, the ministry’s Executive Director, Ben Nangombe, is adamant there will be no need to test the Chinese vaccine to measure its compatibility and effectiveness.

“We are accepting that those vaccines have been trialled by the developers, we will not be doing trials in Namibia. It’s either the developer themselves or they could ask somebody on their behalf to run the trials,” said Nangombe adding that the testing of the vaccines are generally done by the developers.

The Health ministry ED said although no definite dates have been set, the drugs will, however, need to comply with local medicine regulations.

“The dates the vaccines are expected to arrive will depend on when the processes that govern the importation of pharmaceuticals in the country are completed. China has decided to donate the vaccine to Namibia, we are trying to work out the modalities of how to get the vaccine here including issues of compliance with our own regulations that govern the processes under which the medicines and pharmaceuticals enter the country,” said Nangombe.

Quizzed on progress made regarding confirming if the new COVID-19 variant is in the country, Nangombe said results of tests done would be coming out as from next week.

“We have submitted the samples for testing, the results should be coming out next week for the variant that was confirmed in South Africa,” he said.

The South African variant carries a mutation that appears to make it more contagious or easy to spread.

Namibia is among 53 developing countries that China has targeted to receive its vaccine. Zimbabwe is another country in Africa that received its first 200,000 coronavirus vaccines on Monday.

China currently has 16 different vaccines at various stages of development, but the front-runners are from Sinovac and Sinopharm.

A growing number of countries across the world have turned to Chinese COVID-19 vaccines as Western vaccine makers’ face production and delivery hiccups. One of the vaccines, Sinovac’s main advantages according to the BBC, is that it can be stored in a standard refrigerator at 2-8 degrees Celsius, like the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is made from a genetically engineered virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees, compared to Moderna’s vaccine needs to be stored at -20C and Pfizer’s vaccine at -70C.

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