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Lazarus Chakwera, Saulos Chilima in first lot for jabs

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TALKING VACCINES—Mlusu and UN Resident Coordinator Jose Torres

President Lazarus Chakwera and Vice President Saulos Chilima will be among the first people to receive Covid-19 vaccine, in the hope of demystifying the myth surrounding the vaccine.

Minister of Health, Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, confirmed the development to Malawi News when welcoming the highly awaited first consignment of the AstraZeneca vaccine amid excitement after the cargo plane carrying the consignment touched down at 4pm yesterday.

The issue of the vaccine had divided opinion, with others hesitant to go for the jab.

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The plane, which arrived through Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe, carried about 360,000 doses of the vaccine.

Chiponda assured Malawians about the safety of the vaccine from the Covax Facility, a global collaboration co-led by Gavi, the Vaccination Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) and WHO and includes Unicef, which leads on procurement and delivery, as well as getting countries ready to receive the vaccines.

“We want to assure Malawians that the vaccine is safe and even the President will be among the first to be vaccinated.

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“The arrival of the vaccine is a step toward immediate immunisation of Malawi and this will help minimise the impact of the virus and a new hope for Malawi in the pandemic fight,” Chiponda said.

She said front line workers like police officers, soldiers, immigration officers and teachers will also be among first recipients of the vaccine as they are at high risk of getting infection.

She added that the government will start the actual vaccination across the country by next week.

Chiponda, however, warned against relaxation on preventive measures of the pandemic as the vaccine offers protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death.

Minister of Finance, Felix Mlusu, said the coming-in of the vaccine would help the government to revive the economy, which was shut down because a lot of effort was going towards the pandemic.

“It will revive our businesses. The re-opening of businesses will start soon,” he said.

Unicef Representative, Rudolf Schwenk, said the arrival of the vaccine is part of the work by the Covax Facility to provide vaccines to all participating countries.

“Unicef will be supplying up to one billion syringes and 10 million safety boxes to countries in 2021 to ensure they are ready for Covid-19 vaccinations. To meet the demand for these vital supplies, Unicef created a stockpile of almost half a billion syringes in its warehouses in Copenhagen and Dubai in preparation for the broader rollout of Covid-19 vaccines in 82 low-and lower middle-income countries,” he said.

The arrival of the vaccine comes soon after the government received 360,000 bundled syringes and 3625 safety boxes for the safe disposal of syringes for the Covid-19 vaccination.

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