Namibia to suspend first doses as COVID-19 vaccine supplies run low

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Namibia will temporarily suspend administering first doeses of COVID-19 vaccines on Tuesday as supplies run low, a ministry of health memo seen by Reuters showed.

The country is in the midst of a deadly “third wave” of COVID-19 infections, recording more than 2,500 new cases on Thursday, the highest daily number of cases since the virus was first detected in March last year.

According to the memo, the vaccine stocks had almost been depleted due to delays in the delivery of procured doses.

Remaining doses of the AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines should be reserved for people getting their second doses, the memo said.

Only around 116,000 people out of Namibia’s population of 2.5 million have received a first dose of either the Sinopharm or AstraZeneca vaccine.

Some 23,000 have received two vaccine doses.

Because it is classified as an upper middle-income country, Namibia had to pay to participate in global vaccine distribution scheme COVAX. But despite making payment, it has only received 24,000 doses out of 108,000 allocated by the facility.

It has received donations of 100,000 Sinopharm doses from China and 30,000 AstraZeneca doses from India.

Health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe told reporters on Friday that the country expects a further 150,000 Sinopharm doses, 100,000 AstraZeneca shots, 80,000 Johnson & Johnson doses and 80,000 shots of Russia’s Sputnik V.

State-owned New Era newspaper quoted Nangombe as saying delays in vaccine deliveries were linked to pharmaceutical companies focusing in orders from bigger clients.

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