Johnson & Johnson vaccines for Lesotho

Johnson & Johnson vaccines for Lesotho

MASERU-HEALTH Minister Semano Sekatle says Lesotho has paid a deposit of M25 million to buy 1.1 million Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines.
The vaccines will be delivered early next month.
Sekatle told Parliament on Monday that the million vaccines will be in addition to the 36 000 AstraZeneca that were delivered in March.

“The Lesotho government has paid 15 percent of the deposit of M25 million for the vaccines,” Sekatle said.
The vaccines are being acquired through the Covax Facility which seeks to accelerate the development and access to vaccines to poor countries.
The target is to inoculate 20 percent of the population in poor countries through this provision.

“The first batch from Covax is not paid by (these poor) countries but by big countries through Unicef and WHO,” Sekatle said.
He also said the second batch from the AU will be procured by each country adding that Lesotho is expecting a further 946 253 vaccines from the Covax facility.

He said the AstraZeneca vaccine takes two doses with a 12-week gap in between while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires a single dose.
“Lesotho has procured a massive second dose of vaccines so as to enhance the vaccinating process in the country,” he said.
Sekatle said so far the country has vaccinated 20 267 people, adding that they thank the Royal Family and the Prime Minister for leading the vaccination process.

The first batch was for health workers and the second one will be for other categories like ports of entry workers.
Journalists and other selected categories were vaccinated on Monday.
Sekatle said his ministry is expecting the second batch of the vaccine in early May.

“The production of the vaccine does not meet the demand so its distribution is turning into economic politics,” he said.
He said they applaud the World Health Organisation for fighting to end the discrimination by powerful countries as they want to vaccinate their people first.

He said Lesotho is expecting to vaccinate 430 115 people which is 20 percent of the population with the AstraZeneca while 40 percent will be vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Sekatle added that India has pledged to give Lesotho a further 30 000 AstraZeneca vaccines.
He also said the second dose “is a booster and needs to be taken for people to be boosted”.

“Lesotho will get its fair share of the vaccine from both the Covax Facility and India,” he said.
“For now we only have AstraZeneca.”
He said the vaccine reduces chances of serious illness in the event that one contracts Covid-19.
He said even after vaccination Basotho should continue abiding by the set rules to avoid contracting Covid-19.

He commended the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Lesotho and WHO Representatives in Lesotho for their efforts to ensure that the country gets the vaccine.
The Covax Facility plans to deliver at least two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of this year to ensure that at least 20 percent of the population in poor countries have access to vaccines.

The Covax Facility is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the WHO working in partnership with UNICEF as well as the World Bank, vaccine manufacturers, civil society organizations, and others.
In addition to the UN supported Covax Facility, Lesotho is also negotiating vaccine supplies from the African Union and the private sector.

Nkheli Liphoto & ’Mapule Motsopa

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