Govt concerned with public scepticism over COVID-19 vaccine


Zambia has in the last 24 hours recorded 140 new cases of COVID -19 out of 3,393 tests conducted representing a 4% positivity.

This also brings the cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded to date to 88,012, Minister of Health Jonas Chanda has announced.

According to a statement issued to ZANIS in Lusaka today, Dr. Chanda indicated that the new cases broken down by province shows 61 for Lusaka, North-western 29, 23 Luapula, 14 Copperbelt, 5 Eastern, Central and Southern Provinces 3 cases each while Northern and Western 1 each and zero cases for Nakonde.

The Minister further stated that the province with the highest positivity rate was North-western with 15% while Central, Southern and Western had the lowest positivity of 1%.  

“There were zero or no new deaths recorded from the provinces in the last 24 hours. The cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded remains at 1,200, classified as 667 COVID-19 deaths and 533 COVID-19 associated deaths,” he said. 

Dr. Chanda added that 117 discharges were recorded from both the COVID-19 isolation facilities and home management bringing the cumulative number of recoveries to 84,464 representing 96%.

“We currently have 2,348 active cases, of whom 2,253 are under community management and 95 are admitted to our COVID-19 isolation facilities. Among those admitted, 80 are on oxygen therapy and 16 are in critical condition,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Minister stated that government has worked hard to ensure that it can confidently introduce the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme as the ninth strategic objective in COVID-19 response.

Dr. Chanda said it is therefore worrying to note the level of skepticism, hesitancy and the conspiracy theories including ill-informed myths surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines.

“As a listening government, however, it is our duty to diligently address all the concerns of our people and these will be adequately addressed in our detailed Communication Strategy which will also look at the frequently asked questions around the vaccines,” he stressed.

The Minister added “It is our sincere hope that with continual community engagement, we will be able to reach common grounds and provide our people with the necessary information and assurance on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine choices in our approved basket which will protect people’s lives. We wish to emphasise that the Vaccination Programme will be carried out in a cautionary, voluntary, phased manner targeting priority groups, with dedicated pharmacovigilance systems in place to monitor the roll out,”

He observed that despite the current delivery delays from the Serum Institute of India under the COVAX facility which will see the deliveries of the vaccines sometime around April and May, government is pursuing other avenues to bring in the vaccines sooner through other Vaccine pillars provided they meet the safety and efficacy criteria as determined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and local regulatory agency, ZAMRA.

“As previously stated, the first pillar under COVAX will provide coverage for 20% of our eligible population meaning those aged 18 years and older while the other two pillars comprising vaccine diplomacy channels as well as government and private sector financed acquisition will provide coverage for the remainder of our eligible and priority groups from the basket of vaccines,” he noted.