Namibia could destroy another 330,000 coronavirus vaccine doses by October

Syringes with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to be administered against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lie on a tray during a program without an appointment in Sant Vicenc de Casteller, north of Barcelona, Spain, July 6, 2021. REUTERS- Albert Gea

Namibia could destroy at least 330 000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine by October to add to the 318 000 doses, worth an estimated R27 million, that have already been destroyed since last year.

Executive director of the country’s health ministry, Ben Nangombe, revealed this during a media tour where he also told journalists that “the vaccine uptake must increase” to avoid more losses.

“We are talking about already having to dispose of 318 000 doses worth about N$26 million (R26 million). These are a lot of resources going to waste, so we are appealing to our people to come [get vaccinated] because it is in their best interests,” he said.

Nangombe said safe stockpiles were 425 000 doses of the Chinese-manufactured Sinopharm vaccine and 43 000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine that will expire in August and September next year.

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The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) reported that money used to buy vaccines could have been used for other development initiatives, such as building schools and upgrading hospitals. As such, Namibians should realise that slow uptake hurts the country’s fiscus.

Addressing the nation during the 43rd Covid-19 update on the country’s national response measures, Namibian President Hage Geingob said winter was a crucial stage of the Covid-19 fight.

“The winter months are upon us. A time when we tend to congregate more closely together indoors, to keep warm. Thus, this is a time that requires increased personal discipline and a heightened sense of precaution so as to avert high transmission of the virus that can result in new infections and reinfections,” he said.

As of Friday last week, Namibia recorded 162 020 Covid-19 cases since the outbreak of the global pandemic in March 2020, with 4 029 deaths.

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Geingob noted a “sharp increase” in new infections in the past month.

“The rate of infection has risen sharply over the last 29-day observance period, recording a threefold increase in the weekly positivity rate, from 2.1 percent (in the week commencing 11 April) to 7.5 percent as of 11 May 2022.

“Year-on-year data comparisons further reveal that at this time last year (2021), the positivity rate in the country stood at 11.9 percent at the onset of the third wave.

“The rise in new cases has been recorded predominantly in the towns of Windhoek, Rehoboth, Okahandja and Otjiwarongo and is attributable primarily to cluster outbreaks in various primary and secondary schools and hostels,” he said.

He added that there was a generally “relaxed and worrisome attitude” towards the wearing of masks in public.

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