health

Jan. 8, 2021

METRO REPORTERS

5 min read

Lesotho to get COVID-19 vaccine soon

Lesotho to get COVID-19 vaccine soon

WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

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LESOTHO is one of the 92 countries from across the globe that will soon receive the COVID-19 vaccine called COVAX, in a bid to fight the spread of the pandemic, the Minister of Health Motlatsi Maqelepo has said.

The minister made the pronouncement on Thursday during a press conference in Maseru where he showed that only 20 percent of Lesotho's population will be administered with the vaccine.

Mr Maqelepo said the process will be conducted in two sessions, adding that in the initial session, the vaccine will be administered to health care workers.

A decision, he noted will be reached in the long run as to which groups of the society will get the vaccine thereafter.

“The vaccine is expected to arrive in Lesotho in April and a selected group will be put on it immediately upon its arrival and it will be given free of charge,” he also said.

COVAX is one of three pillars of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which was launched in April by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Commission and France in response to this pandemic.

The COVAX pillar is focused on the latter as it is the only truly global solution to this pandemic because it is the only effort to ensure that people in all corners of the world will get access to COVID-19 vaccines once they are available, regardless of their wealth.

Lesotho recorded its first case of COVID-19 in May 2020 and the latest reports show that to date 36 754 tests have been conducted, 4137 came out positive, 1 538 recoveries were recorded with 73 related deaths.

Addressing a media briefing on the current state of pandemic earlier this week, the director general of WHO Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week, the body issued its first Emergency Use Listing for a COVID-19 vaccine – the Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine.  

“And yesterday (Monday), it was also encouraging to see the Astra-Zeneca vaccine rollout begin in the first country. One year on from WHO issuing its first Disease Outbreak News report about this virus, more than 30 countries have started vaccinating their high-risk populations with various COVID-19 vaccines.

“The scientific community has set a new standard for vaccine development. Now the international community must set a new standard for access. 

“COVAX has been backed by 190 countries and economies and I want to see all manufacturers channel supply to COVAX quickly so that rollouts can begin and those at high-risk are protected around the world,” he said. 

Adding: “We owe it morally to health workers everywhere who have been fighting this pandemic around the clock for the best part of a year, to vaccinate them all as soon as possible. 

“People must come first over short-term profits. It’s in countries self-interest to shun vaccine nationalism. 

“Vaccinating health workers and those at high risk of serious disease is the fastest way to stablise health systems, ensure all essential health services are up and running and that a truly global economic recovery can take place.” 

Dr Ghebreyesus urged all governments to work together and live up to their commitments to equitable distribution globally and all pharmaceutical groups to boost supply as quickly as possible and to fully participate in COVAX. 

Lesotho to get COVID-19 vaccine soon

The Minister of Health Motlatsi Maqelepo

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“The hundred-hundred initiative driven by WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank is supporting over 100 countries to conduct rapid readiness assessments and develop country-specific plans for vaccines and other COVID-19 tools. 

“So far more than 90 countries have already completed the assessments and our teams are working around the clock to ensure that governments and health systems are ready for global vaccine rollout but we need consistent, predictable, affordable supply of safe and effective vaccines. 

“Morally, economically, socially and for global security, we must act together right now to ensure equitable rollout,” he also said. 

Speaking at the same media briefing the chairperson of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE), Dr Alejandro Cravioto encouraged every country to row in unison in the same direction to beat the pandemic. 

“Solidarity, multilateralism and collaboration are key so that we win the race against this pandemic quickly and escape these stormy waters together.

“Lastly, over the past 24 hours, members of the international scientific team on COVID-19 virus origins began traveling from their home countries to China. 

“This was as per arrangements jointly developed between WHO, the Chinese government, and countries for which the team was meant to travel through on their way to Wuhan,” he said. 

He added: “Today we learned that Chinese officials have not yet finalised the necessary permissions for the team’s arrival in China. 

“I am very disappointed with this news given that two members had already begun their journeys and others were not able to travel at the last minute.”  

Dr Cravioto said he has however been in contact with senior Chinese officials and he has once again made clear that the mission is a priority for WHO and the international team.

“I have been assured that China is speeding up the internal procedure for the earliest possible deployment,” he also noted. 

 

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