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Malawi turns to Pfizer Covid vaccine

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The government has added Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson to its list of Covid vaccines as one way of dealing with the persistent shortage of Oxford- AstraZeneca vaccine in the country.

Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda disclosed this Tuesday on the sidelines of a handover of 56 ambulances by the Global Fund to Malawi.

Kandodo Chiponda said the country has run out of Astra- Zeneca doses because Covid has hit hard India, which is the manufacturing country for the product.

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She said Malawi could manage to store and use Pfizer.

“We have added Pfizer to the list of our vaccines. We have also added Johnson & Johnson.

“We are going to give Malawians different options. We do not want to put ourselves in a corner where we stick to only one vaccine because, when there are problems. then you have nowhere to go,” she said.

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At the function, the World Health Organisation (WHO) disclosed that Malawi would be among African countries that would benefit from 20 million doses of Johnson & John-son and Pfizer Covid vaccines expected to arrive in Africa by August.

WHO Representative to Malawi, Nonhlanhla Rosemary Dlamini, said the vaccine was a donation from the United States through the Covid Vaccine Access facility in coordination with the African Union.

Dlamini urged Malawi and other African countries to start setting up ultra-cold chain storage facilities for other types of vaccines including Pfizer.

She said a key driver to accelerate vaccine uptake on the continent is to upgrade the cold-chain capacity to store and handle vaccines such as Pfizer.

“The initial approved long term storage was -70°Centigrade [degrees Celsius]. Updated guidance from WHO and European Medicines Agency extends the storage requirements to 2-8° Centigrade for 31 days.

“This means that the vaccine can be shipped and stored at national level at an ultra-cold storage for six months,” Dlamini said.

When districts are ready, the vaccine can be distributed, stored at fridge temperature and be used for not more than 31 days.

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