A man wearing a face mask walks on a street in Blantyre, Malawi, on Jan. 11, 2021. (Photo by Joseph Mizere/Xinhua)
Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera has announced that his government has finally secured COVID-19 doses to help immunize "as many citizens as possible".
LILONGWE, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera has announced that his government has finally secured doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to help immunize "as many citizens as possible" against COVID-19.
Chakwera said the first consignment of the vaccine will arrive at the end of February for rollout in March.
Chakwera said his government will administer the vaccine to 20 percent of the population for a start, with frontline workers, the elderly, and those with underlying conditions as a priority.
"Our own scientists in our own labs will verify the safety of the vaccine and will give you full information so that no one is misled by social media lies and propaganda against vaccinations that the scientific community has worked hard to provide to save lives," said Chakwera.
The president also announced that for the first time since the pandemic hit the country, Malawi's scientists at the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust (MLW) lab at one of the country's referral health facilities, Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, now have the capacity to sequence the virus that causes COVID-19.
This photo taken on Jan. 22, 2021, shows people buying garlic in Thyolo, Malawi. (Photo by Joseph Mizere/Xinhua)
"Being able to sequence the virus will reduce our reliance on labs in South Africa for that service. As a demonstration of the significance of this viral sequencing capacity, it has been confirmed that the new strain of the virus from South Africa is indeed here in Malawi," said Chakwera.
Meanwhile, the government has recruited over 1,100 medical personnel to beef up human resources in the country's health sector, and according to President Chakwera, more than 250 new medical personnel will be recruited.
The government has also disbursed funds amounting to approximately 1.3 million U.S. dollars to the country's 28 district councils for the procurement of face masks to be distributed to every Malawian.
Malawi has recorded nearly 24,000 COVID-19 cases out of over 144,000 tests conducted since April 2020.