Covid-19 third wave – a reality

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THE past month has seen a drop in daily Covid-19 positive results but this does not mean that Zambia is now coronavirus free.

Just recently, Minister of Health, Jonas Chanda stated that Zambia is not immune to the current threat of the third wave of Covid-19 that European countries and some parts of Africa are grappling with.

Dr Chanda has, however, reassured that the Covid-19 vaccine acquisition and deployment programme the government has put in place will mitigate the threat of a Third Wave.

“With countries in Europe and some parts of Africa currently grappling with a third wave, it is clear that Zambia is not immune to the threat of a third wave. As we put in place the necessary measures to avert or mitigate this, we are confident that the Covid-19 Vaccine Acquisition and Deployment programme will be a critical additional piece to our Covid-19 Response Strategy,” he explained.

Mr. Chanda said the Ministry will continue to actively engage the numerous players within the private sector who have expressed keen interest in supporting the vaccination programme and explore other avenues of resource mobilization.

Adding that the Vaccine Programme will be done cautiously on a voluntary basis and in a phased manner and on Pilot basis.

This comes following Cabinet’s approval and adoption of the acquisition, deployment and financing of Covid-19 Vaccines in the country as an additional pillar of pandemic Strategy yesterday.

“There will be no mandatory vaccination. The available scientific evidence shows overwhelmingly that vaccine deployment is key in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. Countries that have made progress in their vaccine roll-out have already shown significant reduction in transmission, severe illness and deaths reported,” the Minister explained.

And Dr Chanda disclosed that the first Pillar of initial vaccines to be rolled out under the COVAX mechanism will be AstraZeneca and subsequently the Johnson and Johnson vaccine which will be free.

“COVAX will cover 20% (3,676,791) of the eligible adult over the age of 18 years (18,383,955) population. The remaining 26% (4,761,327) of the eligible population will be covered through Pillar 2 and 3 below. The Second Pillar are vaccines that may be donated to the Country by other Governments and Cooperating Partners subject to approval of the Ministry of Health through ZAMRA, as long as they meet the criteria for efficacy and safety based on proven clinical trial , sustainability , source of manufacture and have been monitored to have been used safely in many countries. The Ministry of Health through Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) will check efficacy and safety for all vaccines,” he said.

The Minister added that the Third Pillar will cover the rest of the eligible adult population who may not be covered under Pillar one and two through Government making available funds for vaccines, and also the participation of the Private sector, with the approval of the Ministry and ZAMRA.

Dr Chanda said his Ministry will be providing key insights on the COVID-19 vaccine deployment during the daily briefings as he rolls out the programme.

He hoped that with the vaccine deployment the country can attain “herd immunity” and thus control the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minister called on the general public to not be swayed by myths, conspiracy theories and propaganda.

“We do, however, stress the importance of maintaining our adherence to all the other facets of the public health guidance including mask wearing, hand hygiene and physical distancing. Additionally, we cannot stress enough the importance of continued community interventions to avoid transmission particularly through super spreader events. We will continue to engage our communities through the various structures in order to sustain adherence and behaviour change efforts,” he said. The Minister said the pandemic has been a source of many lessons, both at a global and local level.

“Our own eight-pronged response strategy has undergone review and refinement to ensure that as the pandemic has evolved we have been able to stay ahead of the curve to continually mount an effective response,” he pointed

Dr Chanda explained that evidence from current trends globally and in Africa are worrying as it is a clear indication that the Covid-19 pandemic is still raging.

He added that the Ministry is heavily investing in ensuring that deployed staff are adequately trained to efficiently carry out the programme.

He urged the public to play their part in ensuring adherence to Covid-19 guidelines, be it as an individual, family or business owner.

We must ensure that the winter season finds a more resisilient citizrenship, willing to play their part in curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

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