Malawi is battling the third wave of coronavirus, with an analysis of daily updates issued by the Presidential Taskforce on Covid indicating that 105 patients have died of Covid-related complications in two weeks.
By Wednesday, our compilation of Covid fatalities based on daily Covid updates revealed that 80 people had died. By Thursday evening, however, the figure rose to 105, after officials indicated that 25 more people had died of Covid -related complications in isolation centres spread across the country.
Apart from the 25 cases of fatalities recorded yesterday, the country’s health facilities recorded 785 new cases of coronavirus-positive people.
According to Thursday’s update, 220 new patients are admitted to hospitals, with 60 people being admitted Thursday alone.
Meanwhile, Malawians have to wait a little longer for the arrival of the anticipated 192,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that were expected to arrive Thursday.
At least 385,242 have received the first dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Malawi. However, only 43,165 people have received two doses of the much sought-after vaccine.
The country’s infection and death rate are on an upward spiral.
Malawians were, therefore, hopeful that the 192,000 vaccine doses that Ministry of Health officials said would arrive Thursday would accord them a chance to have two doses of the vaccine.
Under the Covid Vaccine Access (Covax) facility, 900,000 doses have been earmarked for Malawi.
To the chagrin of those reeling to have a jab, the much publicised consignment never arrived.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has indicated that the doses failed to arrive in the country due to logistical challenges.
However, ministry officials fell short of saying when the logistical challenges would be addressed and vaccine doses arrive in the country.
Secretary for Health Dr Charles Mwansambo said the vaccines were already purchased through United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef), adding that they were being stored in Copenhagen, Denmark.
“The vaccine is ready to be dispatched to Malawi but we have not been given the flight details. Once we get the details, we will let you know,” Mwanzambo said.
However, The Daily Times has established that there was no date set for the arrival of the vaccine in the country.
We further established that July 15 [Thursday] was simply a day when the vaccine was expected to be picked from the supplier, and not the day it was meant to arrive in Malawi.
“The actual date for arrival is not yet set,” said one of our sources.
Unicef said the global supply of vaccines is presently constrained, which impacts country access, but logistical arrangements for delivery to Malawi were ongoing.
“This constraint is due to several factors including company-related production delays, shipping challenges and increasing demand,” said Unicef Malawi Communication Officer Rebecca Phwitiko.
Phwitiko said, currently, participating countries and economies of the Covax facility had been negatively affected.
She added that Unicef had supported the Ministry of Health to fasttrack and secure regulatory approval for the 192,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that are part of the donation from the government of France under Covax facility dose-sharing arrangement.
Phwitiko said the Covax facility is working to bring more vaccines into the country.
“These vaccines will be sourced from different suppliers in different countries.
The country seeks to vaccinate 60 percent of its 18 million population.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.