By Moses Michael-Phiri
Malawi has received 302,400 doses of the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen coronavirus vaccine donated by the US through the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility.
Health Minister Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said the vaccines will be distributed at vaccination centers across the country on Monday.
“The vaccines will help in our efforts to reduce the number of people affected and fight the disease,” Chiponda told journalists after receiving the consignment at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe.
The vaccines were received barely one week after Malawi ran out of doses of Oxford’s AstraZeneca jab.
“The single-shot Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines will complement USAID’s efforts in partnership with Malawi’s Ministry of Health to end the global COVID-19 pandemic,” United States Embassy Charge’ d’Affaires Jeremy Neitzke said via Twitter.
USAID is an independent agency of the US government that administers foreign aid and development assistance.
Malawi resumed its vaccination program on July 26 after the arrival of 192,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX facility.
Malawians have since been queuing by the thousands to get vaccinated amid a spike in cases.
But most vaccination centers closed last Friday because of shortages.
The East African country of 18 million began its campaign in March but ran out of doses in June, weeks after the government burned 20,000 expired doses.
African countries, including Malawi, have been wholly reliant on COVAX, and the distribution of vaccines has been hampered by manufacturing delays and supply disruptions.
Ministry of Health Principal Secretary Charles Mwansambo told Anadolu Agency that Malawi will now mix and match vaccines to ensure as many people are vaccinated.
“Those who took the first jab of the AstraZeneca will not take the Jonson & Jonson vaccine,” said Mwansambo. “They will have to wait for another AstraZeneca consignment for the second vaccine.”
The official said Malawi also expects to receive the Pfizer vaccine by the end of September.
Nearly 455,000 people in Malawi have received their first dose, while more than 139,000 are fully vaccinated.
As of Saturday, the country has registered 55,699 cases and 1,805 deaths from the virus.
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