No guarantee on Pfizer drug: Shangula

Andrew Kathindi

The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS) said there is no guarantee that no one will die after receiving the Pfizer vaccine.

Shangula said this after 33 people in Norway died after receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine last week.

“Each body reacts in its own way according to its makeup, it’s not something which you can predict,” Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula told Windhoek Observer.

“You can have a completely healthy person without anything, get injected and immediately a reaction starts. It’s just like an allergic reaction to Penicillin or any other drug.”

The Pfizer vaccine, which is what Namibia will receive through the COVAX Facility, is expected in the country around the end of the month.

The Minister, however, said that while they were aware of the matter in Norway, and that it was concerning, it was not a cause to panic.

“It happened in Norway and according to the description, there were some underlying conditions among those (who died). Any death is a concern. You don’t need to panic. Then you’ll be spending your life panicking.”

“We always take precautions, but in any vaccine, even in the normal vaccine for the children, an unexpected thing happens and we had, even in Namibia some vaccine related events.”

“It’s not something new, it does happen now and then, depending on the reaction of the body to the introduction of the vaccine.”

According to Norwegian media reports , most of those who succumbed as a result of an adverse reaction to the Pfizer vaccine were aged 75 or older and were already sick.

The Namibian government has targeted health workers and the most vulnerable citizens, including the elderly and the sick to first receive the COVID-19 vaccine, expected in the country at the end of this month.

The government hopes to vaccinate about 20 percent of the population (around 508 200 people) with the COVAX facility vaccine, for which it has already paid an amount of N$29 272 320. Namibia will need to pay an additional N$138 180 088.

This comes as COVID-19 related deaths in Namibia continue to spike. On Monday 18 January, the country recorded eight deaths in 24 hours, the second highest in the country less than two weeks after it recorded the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in a day with 13.

The Health Ministry on Tuesday 19 January reported 242 new positive COVID-19 cases from 1398 results, with the highest number (60), from Windhoek.

According to the Ministry, the total number of active cases currently stands at 2 836, while of these 267 are hospitalized, of which twenty-seven 27 are in intensive care units (ICUs).

“Khomas region alone makes up 33% of the hospitalized confirmed cases.”

The country currently has thus far recorded 30 995 cases with 296 COVID-19 related deaths.

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