Japanese government donates AstraZeneca doses to Malawi

The Ministry of Health has hailed government of Japan for donating to the country 277, 080 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine.

Speaking to press after receiving the consignment at Kamuzu Inter1 Airport Saturday afternoon, Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said the vaccine has come at a right time when about 700, 000 Malawians are waiting to receive their AstraZeneca vaccine second jab.

According to Chiponda, the country run out of AstraZeneca vaccine on 31st December 2021.

"We haven’t had any AstraZeneca from 1st January. This is so timely because we have over 700, 000 Malawians who have already received first dose of AstraZeneca.

“Just to remind each other, you need to get two doses of AstraZeneca for you to have the much needed immunity,” said Chiponda.

The Minister of Health further urged people who are expecting to get their AstraZeneca second dose to go and get their dose in immunization centers from Monday 28th February, 2022.

Chiponda however said the country is behind its projection as it has failed to reach its 50% target of the eligible people to get the Covid-19 vaccine due to low uptake of the vaccine.

Chiponda also revealed that more Covid-19 vaccine is in the pipeline as government targets to protect many Malawians from the virus.

"These vaccines have a short shelf life. So, it is very important that we manage absorption so that no vaccine expires on us. We have told covax that we will be getting the vaccine in bits,” she said.

Malawi and Japanese representatives receiving the consignment

On his behalf, Japanese Ambassador to Malawi Satoshi Iwakiri said he was pleased to handover the vaccine consignment to Malawi government which is part of Japanese government’s commitment of 1 billion USD Dollars (approximately MWK 810 trillion) to the covax facility to advance vaccination agenda.

Iwakiri said Japanese government is ready to give the country more assistance.

“We have donated these according to the request by the Malawian government but if the government requests more, we are ready to add more assistance to Malawi,” said Iwakiri.

The consignment has 27, 708 vials which is about 277, 000 doses.

In a related development, the Ministry of Health has revealed that Malawi Immunization Technical Advisory Group (MAITAG) has submitted its recommendations to the Ministry that people can now get booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccines.

A booster dose according to Chiponda is an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine three months after taking the primary series.