RUSTENBURG – The first batch of 360,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Malawi on Friday afternoon.
According to local media reports heath Minster Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda flanked by officials from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations received the Covid-19 vaccine at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe.
The vaccine was procured through the WHO-led Covax facility.
Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera early in February said the the country was expecting the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccine by mid February, that would be used for health workers.
Another batch was expected at the end of February but, due to logistic problems the country received its first batch in the first week of March, he said.
The country had planned to roll out its vaccine programme in March.
News website Malawi24, reported that Chakwera was expected to be the first citizen in the country to be vaccinated.
The rollout of the vaccine programme will prioritise front-line workers, the elderly and those with underlying conditions, about 3.6 million people were expected to be vaccinated in the first phase.
The country aimed to inoculate 60-80 percent of the population in order to reach herd immunity.
Radio station Capital FM Malawi reported that the ministry of health has assured the public that the first batch of 360,000 was adequate for the target group in the first phase of vaccination.
According to the radio station, Chiponda, has said the vaccine has come at the right time when Malawi still has cases of Covid-19.
The vaccine was expected to be distributed to all 28 districts of the country.
Malawi was expected to roll out the vaccination programme while at the same time verifying whether the majority of Covid-19 cases in the country were caused by the South African variant.
South Africa temporarily suspended the roll out AstraZeneca vaccine following a clinical trial showing the doses were ineffective on the new 501.V2 variant strain of Covid-19 firstly detected in South Africa.
Malawi's new infection rate has slowed down later in February as compared to in January were the number spiked forcing the country to shut down schools for two weeks.
The south eastern African country has so far recorded 32,283 cases, 1,058 deaths and 20,582 recoveries.
– African News Agency (ANA)