MALAWI. Lilongwe: Malawi government will on May 19 destroy 19,610 doses of the anti-COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine after they had expired, the Health Ministry has said in a statement.
According to the country’s Principal Secretary for Health Dr. Charles Mwansambo, the vaccine doses are part of the 102,000 which arrived on March 20 but got expired on April 13.
The incineration of the vaccines as it is medically termed will occur at the Kamuzu Central Hospital the main referral health facility located in Lilongwe, the capital.
“This is in line with the laid down protocols by the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority, specifically on the disposal of medicines and biologicals”, read the statement.
The country’s offices of Government Treasury, the Anti Corruption Bureau, and Auditor General will witness the event to ensure transparency.
Most of the vaccine doses came from the African Union. Malawi only imported the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine due to its affordability and easy storage.
According to the Ministry of Health over 332,084 individuals had been vaccinated since the vaccination campaign started. Malawi has a total population of over 18 million.
Most health facilities administering vaccination open from Mondays to Fridays. This is an inconvenience to those who work on weekdays.
These include Juliana Samuel a 23-year-old resident of Chiuzira a township located in the southeastern part of Lilongwe.
She works at a manufacturing company near the central business district of the capital.
“Most people may also not go for vaccination doses because of the long distance to reach the health facilities,” she laments.
The closest facilities offering vaccination for COVID-19 are Kang’oma and Kawale Health centres both located at a distance of 8 kilometres from her neighbourhood.
Apart from cultural and religious myths deterring the vaccination campaign, distance in accessing health facilities is also another hiccup.
Despite fears of a third wave of the pandemic, the rate of new infections had dropped to only around 6 in Mid May from over 1000 per day registered early this year when the second wave had struck.