Lesotho receives new  batch of vaccines

Lesotho receives new batch of vaccines

MASERU – LESOTHO received 36 000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines on Monday as the country stepped up its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The second batch of vaccines are a donation from the Republic of France through the Covax facility.

The first batch came in March with those in the front-line in the fight against the pandemic and those with underlying conditions receiving first preference.
Health Minister Semano Sekatle said it is difficult to get vaccines from India which is battling one of the worst outbreaks of the Covid-19 pandemic.
India, which produces the vaccine and has exported thousands to other countries ever since the Covid-19 outbreak, stopped the exports so that it could prioritise its own people.

“It was a huge problem that frightened us but luckily we managed to get this second batch because of the World Health Organisation (WHO),” Sekatle said.
He said those who got their first jabs will get their second doses starting from the 10th of June.
“We are very happy and we are still expecting a lot more of these vaccines.

We are hoping to secure the AstraZeneca again and Johnson and Johnson vaccines.”
He said the vaccines will come from Covax facility adding they are also expecting 1.1 million vaccines from the African Union (AU) facility.
He said another donation of 100 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China are also expected in the country soon.

“If all these vaccines come at the same time, we will be able to vaccinate more people if these vaccines come around July,” Sekatle said.
He said they might be able to meet the 60 percent target if they all arrive and they believe the target will be achieved.
He said they already paid 15 percent of the money to get the AU vaccines.
He thanked Vodacom Lesotho, Alliance Insurance and Letšeng Diamond for their contributions.

“We still expecting more companies to contribute,” he said.
He thanked all role players who helped the ministry get the vaccines.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Country Representative, Anurita Bains, said the vaccines flowed a bit slowly more than they would have loved adding there were constraints on global supply.

She said it has been through the partnership between Covax, UNICEF, WHO and others that have mobilised to help bring additional doses to the country.
“The strong, tireless leadership of the health ministry has been phenomenal,” Bains said.

“We will continue to bring vaccines as they become available and we know that the team is ready on the ground to make sure health care workers will receive their fully vaccination schedule and doses which will make a huge difference in clinics and to people in districts.”
“We will continue to do what we can to support so that all Basotho are vaccinated,” Bains added.

She said it was exciting that they were within the timeline of the second dose of prioritised health workers.
WHO Representative Dr Richard Banda said Covid-19 continues to take a toll on countries and individuals.
However, “we will continue to work together with partners to support the government of Lesotho in ensuring that vaccines get to all eligible people for (our) safety.”

According to the National Covid-19 Secretariat (Nacosec)’s Infection Prevention and Control Manager, Dr Limpho Maile, the AstraZeneca vaccination programme started in early March after the shipment of the first batch of 36 000 doses supplied by Covax.
She said 36 819 vaccines were administered.
She said 20 267 health workers were vaccinated and 16 552 people had comorbidities.

’Mapule Motsopa

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