27 thousand Covid jabs expire

President Lazarus Chakwera last week demanded rich nations to give poor countries more vaccines and this week, amid low uptake of donated vaccines, 27 thousand doses are set to expire in Malawi.

The Nation has reported that apart from the 27,000 doses, a further 45,000 doses of the single-jab Johnson and Johnson vaccine will expire on December 12 this year.

Speaking during a media engagement, Ministry of Health routine immunization officer Temwa Mzengeza said the Ministry expected to administer the vaccines soon after arrival but there has been low uptake.

“We are not very much impressed, but still, the figures are picking up. But at the rate we are going, we hope we don’t lose any more vaccines,” she said.

According to Ministry of Health spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe, the current stock could be depleted if Malawi vaccinates between 6,000 and 8,000 people daily but the country is only managing to vaccinate 2,000 people per day.

The Ministry has introduced strategies such as door to door and village to village vaccinations but there are still negative attitudes and misinformation towards Covid-19 vaccine in Malawi.

“We have done the best we can on the supply side of the vaccine, it’s now up to the public to take the vaccine.

“We still have a challenge with misinformation, disinformation and misconceptions through social media and even in religious circles. It will be unfortunate if we have to destroy some vaccines,” said Chikumbe.

Despite the low uptake, President Lazarus Chakwera last week told the United Nations General Assembly that rich countries should release vaccines to poor countries.

“You can imagine our disappointment to be at an assembly like this, rubbing shoulders with nations that are now administering booster shots while most of our people are yet to get the first jab,” said Chakwera.

Malawi’s target is to vaccinate 11 million people but so far, the country has fully vaccinated 492,759 people. Over one million doses of Covid-19  vaccines have been administered in the country.

Earlier this year, Malawi destroyed 19,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine due to low uptake.