Tujoromajo Kasuto

MINISTRY of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) Executive Director (ED), Ben Nangombe, says the ministry has with immediate implementation introduced an additional third dose of Sinopharm vaccine for people who have already completed their vaccination schedule.

This would be administered six months (168 days) after the second dose for all adult 60 years and older, those with moderately to severely compromised immune including those with active cancer, transplant recipients, those on active treatment with immune suppression and people with HIV not on treatment. Nangombe adds that all individuals 18 years and older who have completed a two-dose schedule of vaccination with Sinopharm, and seeking to get vaccinated with a third dose of Sinopharm must not be turned away.

The risk of COVID-19 increases with age and among people with comorbidities and those that are immune compromised. It has been documented that geometric mean titre of antibodies post vaccine introduction is lower in persons over 60 years compared to the 18-59-year-olds. Waning of immunity has also been documented. The neutralising antibodies elicited by the two-dose vaccination schedule dropped from a peak of 31.2 AU/ml to 9.2 AU/ml 5 months after the second vaccination.

The additional dose comes as per the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation. “Based on the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Expert (SAGE) interim recommendations for use of the inactivated COVIDI-19 vaccine BIBP development by China National Biotec Group (CNBG), Sinopharm, ” the Ministry hereby introduces an additional primary dose reads a statement from the Ministry.

As a precautionary measure the observation period of 15 minutes after vaccination must be observed and the third dose administered must be recorded on the vaccination card. Furthermore, the Ministry’s is collecting evidence on other vaccine boosters and will keep the public informed accordingly.

The Sinopharm vaccine was introduced in the Namibian COVID-19 vaccination programme on 19 March and has followed with keen interest the scientific discussions on additional vaccine doses and booster shots. As at 29 November, 366 698 first doses and 227,595 second doses were administered and overall, 307 891 persons were fully vaccinated.