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Malawi survey confirms AstraZeneca vaccine efficacy

In Malawi, a survey by the ministry of Health to help ascertain the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine has shown its effectiveness in fighting the coronavirus. The survey was based on current hospital admissions of COVID-19 patients across the country.

The preliminary results of the findings released Saturday were based on COVID-19 admissions between June 26 and July 8 of this year. These results show that over 80% of 227 COVID-19 patients admitted during the period were those not vaccinated.

And those who have only had one AstraZeneca jab were 12% while those fully vaccinated only accounted for 4%. The secretary of the ministry of Health, Dr Charles Mwansambo, says it’s still too early to measure the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine based on these findings.

“We are still vaccinating more and presently our vaccination status is still low. But what we have found out so far is that the majority of those that are coming in those that are not vaccinated,” he said.

However, he says the findings would help end fears and doubts some Malawians had over the vaccine, which prevented them from getting vaccinated. Malawi has currently vaccinated about 400,000 people of the 11 million needed to reach herd immunity.

“So we encourage more people to come for vaccination because obviously this is strongly putting a case for vaccination. So I encourage citizens to make sure that they come for vaccination,” said Mwansambo.

In May, Malawi destroyed about 20,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine which had expired. The incineration was largely because many Malawians were reluctant to be vaccinated over concerns on the vaccine's safety and efficacy.

Lydia Kamwana, a baker in Blantyre, said the survey is a wake-up call to her.

“I haven’t been vaccinated," she said. "I really wanted to go for the jab but then I was so scared. And when I saw those findings, the results are making sense and I am convinced I will get the jab once the vaccine is in stock.”

Maziko Matemba is the national community ambassador for health in Malawi. He welcomes the survey findings but he says the government is now responsible to ensure it has enough vaccine for its people.

“As you know, this is one or less than one percent of the population which has been vaccinated. So the bigger population is not well vaccinated,” he said.

However, Mwansambo said Malawi is expected to receive a donation of 192,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines Thursday to restock its vaccination centers, which ran out of vaccine mid-June.

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