LILONGWE (MalawiTalk) – Minister of Health Mrs Khumbize Kandondo Chiponda has effectively ruled out an early end to easing out Covid-19 restrictions because government is rolling out vaccination programme.
The rollout for the much-waited lifesaving Covid-19 vaccine is this Thursday.
But Chiponda said it would be dangerous if restrictions are eased too soon because unvaccinated people will still be spreading the virus.
Said Chiponda: “Let me remind the public that masks, hand wash and social distancing, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others.
“In order to suppress and reduce the spread of the disease we need combined interventions, the adherence of the preventive measures and the vaccination.”
University of Malawi’s College of Medicine public health and epidemiology Professor Adamson Muula backed government decision on not easing Covid-19 preventive measures as a result of the vaccines.
He said: “That the vaccines prevent one from contracting the disease is still being looked into. What we know is that it prevents severe disease, death and hospitalisation, where the efficacy is around 70 percent. This means that even when you get the vaccine, there is still need to continue following preventive measures.”
The vaccine comes at a time the country is experiencing drastic reduction in infection with 27 new infections only on Sunday and one death.
There are currently 8000 people who are down with the infection.
Malawi has so far secured 360,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.
According to Chiponda, who is also Co-Chairperson of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19, health workers will be in the first group to receive the vaccine.
Other groups to be prioritised are officers from the police, the Malawi Defence Force, journalists, teachers, the elderly and people with health issues.
Chiponda maintained that the vaccine is voluntary, but urged people to utilise it as government steps up efforts to combat the pandemic.
She said: “Getting vaccinated is one of many steps you can take to protect yourself and others from Covid-19 as vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed.”
Mr Joshua Malango, spokesperson for ministry of Health, more vaccines are expected in the country soon, saying Covax facility is expected to provide 3.8 million doses in total while Malawi Government and its partners are looking at adding seven million more doses.
Government is targeting to immunise 11 million people in the country with Covid-19 vaccine, representing 60 percent of the critical population
President Dr Lazarus Chakwera, First Lady Monica Chakwera and cabinet ministers are expected to be the first people to get the first jabs.