All eyes on Covid-19 vaccine

Not a cure

04 February 2021 | Health

Dr Kalumbi Shangula; Health minister; “The Covid-19 vaccine is not a cure against the virus.”

Walvis Bay


All eyes are now on government for the Covid-19 vaccine.

Health minister Kalumbi Shangula said that Namibia has made progress with efforts to acquire suitable Covid-19 vaccines.

“Namibia has made a financial commitment to purchase doses sufficient to vaccinate 20% of the target population through the Covax facility. We have also put mechanisms in place to ensure the country’s readiness to roll out the vaccines.”

He added that Namibia will procure vaccines to immunize at least 60% of its population against the virus.

“The first consignment of vaccines from the Covax facility will arrive mid-February. Apart from the Covax facility, we are in discussions with manufacturers of Covid vaccines in China, Russia, India and the USA for additional vaccines to cover the remaining 40% of the population.”

Shangula said that a national Covid-19 deployment and vaccination plan has been developed in addition to the Covid-19 vaccine taskforce that was established.

“Vaccines go through stringent evaluation to ensure they are safe. The Namibia Medical Regulatory Council is providing the necessary guidance and regulatory oversight. Polio, measles and tuberculosis prevention vaccines have worked very well to protect our people and to date we have those diseases under control. The Covid-19 vaccination campaign will be rolled out under our Expanded Programme on Vaccination (EPI).”

Shangula said that Namibia will collaborate with Botswana in areas related to procurement of vaccines, regulatory approval and delivery thereof, as well as a bilateral agreement for the vaccination of citizens.

The two countries will also share evidence and best practice in vaccine deployment, technical exchange visits and training, surveillance reports, safety and reports of any Adverse Event following immunization (AEFI) and other opportunities for collaboration as they emerge.

Misinformation

Shangula said that the ministry was disturbed by misinformation and false claims against the safety and benefits of the vaccines to individuals.

“Countries are scrambling to obtain vaccines for their citizens and individuals in Europe and USA are competing to be vaccinated and protected against Covid-19. I call on the Namibian people not to be misled and to have faith in the government.”

The health minister also explained that the Covid-19 vaccine is not a cure against the virus.

“The vaccine does not cure the virus, it merely stimulates the immune system to fight off future infections. Once we receive the vaccine, this does not mean we will throw away all other preventative measures.”

Covid-19 tests

According to the health minister, Namibia has done relatively well in terms of the numbers of Covid-19 tests conducted.

“We have significantly increased local testing capacity and reduced the backlog in as much that results are available between 24 and 48 hours. We have also completed the validation of antigen Rapid Test Kits.”

He said that this will allow for speedier and timely isolation of positive cases as well as expedited testing for departing tourists for jurisdictions that accept negative Rapid Test results for returning passengers.

Regulations

Shangula stated that the wearing of masks remains mandatory and public gatherings are limited to 50 people.

Restrictions on the sale of alcohol remain in place and businesses are allowed to operate within their normal trading hours, with adherence to Covid-19 protocols and restrictions brought on by the sale of alcohol and the curfew.

Travellers vaccinated against Covid-19 are required to provide a negative Covid-19 test prior to entry in the country. Returning Namibians without a negative Covid-19 test result, will be subjected to quarantine and testing at own cost.

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