Ministry of Health (MoH) says the country is expected to receive 1 345 600 doses of assorted Covid-19 vaccines between now and September end with delivery of the first consignment of 192 000 doses set for Saturday.
In an interview on Thursday, MoH Principal Secretary (PS) Dr Charles Mwansambo said the 192 000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine failed to arrive last Thursday.
He said: “As a ministry we have played our part in putting in place strategies to make sure that people should have access to vaccines.”
Mwansambo said the 192 000 doses will arrive through Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe and were secured through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access or Covax.
Covax is a global initiative intended to secure equitable access to vaccines and is led by the World Health Organisation and supported by partners such as the Global Alliance for Vaccines (Gavi) and Immunisation and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) and Unicef.
Mwansambo said the country will also receive an additional 119 200 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine before July end, while 302 400 doses of the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccine will follow within two weeks thereafter.
He said the J&J vaccines will comprise two separate consignments of 165 600 and 136 800 doses.
The PS said another 360 000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines will arrive either August end or early September.
“The last consignment will comprise 372 000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine which will arrive before September end,” he said.
Malawi first received 360 000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from Serum Institute of India on March 5 this year.
Another batch of 50 000 doses from India arrived in April and 102 000 doses from African Union (AU) bringing the total number of doses to 512 000.
However, due to low turnout of people for the vaccination exercise some 19 610 doses expired on April 13 and were incinerated on May 19 at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe.
Mwansambo said this time around government has stepped up efforts to raise awareness of the vaccine so that large numbers of people get vaccinated.
He said: “The Ministry of Information has also managed to engage Nice [National Initiative for Civic Education] Trust who are engaging communities and we hope no doses will expire this time around.”
Currently, the country has no Covid-19 vaccines after they run out of stock mid last month.
At the time, only 43 165 people had received the second jab while 385 242 people had received the first jab.
In a separate interview on Thursday, epidemiologist Dr Titus Divala said there will be need for rational distribution of the vaccines to achieve the maximum possible benefit.
He said potential challenges of the vaccination exercise include corruption and young people in many cities getting jabs ahead of the most vulnerable sections of the population.
Said Divala: “These challenges pose a huge threat and should be under serious consideration ahead of commencement.”
Health and Rights Education Programme executive director Maziko Matemba agreed with Divala saying there will be need for proper allocations of the vaccines in areas where they are needed most.
Malawi targets to vaccinate 11 million or 60 percent of the country’s critical population with the Covax Facility providing vaccines for 3.8 million people.
Government said it would mobilise seven million doses to hit at least 11 million of the population to achieve herd immunity.