Shangula shrugs off vaccine stock concerns

Andrew Kathindi

Minister of Health and Social Services (MoHSS), Kalumbi Shangula, says the depletion of vaccination stocks in the country means that more people are protected.

This is the minister’s response to concerns about the dwindling stock of vaccines in the country amidst a third wave that has ravaged the country, and if Government couldn’t have prepared better for it. “It means that the vaccine has been used up by people. In other words, many people have been vaccinated. Which means more people have got protection, that’s why they have used up the vaccine. Which in fact tells us there is a high demand for vaccination among the population. People are presenting themselves to get vaccinated,” Shangula told Windhoek Observer.

The minister’s comments come despite the fact that Namibia has thus far administered only 162,641 doses of both AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines, which were procured through the COVAX facility and as donations from China and India. Namibia has thus far inoculated around 6.48 percent of the population, around 54 percent short of the targeted 60 percent the country needs to reach herd immunity, which will see the country return to normalcy.

The depletion of the vaccine stocks come as the country is currently experiencing a third wave of COVID-19, worsened by the presence of the Delta variant, which the health ministry confirmed last week. President Hage Geingob warned last month that according to medical experts, the peak of the third wave could come in August.

On Tuesday afternoon, 13 July, MoHSS Deputy Executive Director, Petronella Masabane, revealed that several municipalities in the country, including Swakopmund, Okahandja, Grootfontein, Katima & Mariental have run out of the AstraZeneca dose.

Oshakati, Rehoboth and Windhoek are out of stock of both AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines. “Districts not mentioned have both two vaccines. Stock monitoring continues. Sinopharm 250 000 doses of vaccines confirmed to arrive in Namibia on 17July, 2021. The other vaccines (AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson) are set to arrive between July and Sept 2021. Dates will be communicated once confirmed,” Masabane says.

Health minister says new vaccines are expected sometime during this week.

Last month Omusati Health Director, Alfons Amoomo, sent out a memo in which he instructed medical officers to temporarily cease with the administering of the first jab for both AstraZeneca and Sinopharm from 29 June as stocks had ran out.

This comes as on Monday, 12 July, the country crossed over 2,000 COVID-19 or COVID-19 related deaths. On Tuesday the country recorded a further 71, taking the death toll to 2,090.

According to the minister, among the dead only one person received the first dose. The rest have not been vaccinated or the vaccination status could not be established.

Meanwhile Shangula says the civil unrest currently in South Africa is worrying and could impact Namibia’s health service delivery soon if the situation continues to worsen.

“It’s not a good thing what is happening there. We don’t know what sort of impact this will have but it’s not a good thing. If it disrupts the normal flow of supplies, it may affect our performance but we hope it doesn’t go to that extent,” Shangula told Windhoek Observer.

Thousands of South Africans took to the streets to loot and break stores, believed to have been sparked by the imprisonment of former President, Jacob Zuma.

Namibia has thus far recorded 108,055 cumulative cases of COVID-19 and 2,090 deaths.

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