EU’s Ambassador Manahl assures of AstraZeneca effectiveness
TEBOHO KHATEBE MOLEFI
MASERU – In a public display meant to reassure the public about the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination campaign heads of the European Union (EU) and UN agencies resident in the country yesterday received their Covid jabs.
UN Resident Coordinator, Anurita Bains, the Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Richard Banda and the European Union (EU) Ambassador, Christian Manahl were invited by the health minister Semano Sekatle to receive the vaccinations together with a number of other dignitaries at the Military Hospital at the Makoanyane Barracks in Maseru.
Speaking on behalf of his international colleagues, the EU Ambassador expressed his solidarity with health care workers for their commitment in helping to protect the nation from the pandemic and commended the government for organizing the campaign with the vaccine obtained through the COVAX Facility.
Referring to the temporary suspension of AstraZeneca in several European countries, Ambassador Manahl reminded the public that evidence obtained worldwide, including confirmation by the WHO and European Medicines Agency (EMA), shows that AstraZeneca is effective in preventing serious illness and the need for hospitalization in case of infection with COVID-19 as well as reducing the risk of death.
Ambassador Manahl reiterated that the benefits of the vaccine far out outweigh the risks.
He added, “Vaccination is voluntary but I plead with Basotho to take their decisions responsibly and to consider that only collective action will contain the virus allowing the country to eventually overcome the pandemic. I caution Basotho not to drop their guard and to continue observing COVID-19 prevention protocols, such as wearing a mask, regular handwashing and practicing social distancing, and the lockdown restrictions as advised by the government”.
Other dignitaries present at the ceremony who received vaccines today included Former Prime Minster Dr Pakalitha Mosisili, who led the process, former Deputy Prime Ministers Mothetjoa Metsing, Kelebone Maope and Lesao Lehohla.
King Letsie III only last week March 4 also joined healthcare workers to receive the first of Lesotho’s COVID-19 vaccines at the Scott hospital in Morija; he was accompanied by his Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso and their daughter, Princess Senate who were also jabbed.
Healthcare workers were the first in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, with the Ministry of Health administering the AstraZeneca vaccines to healthcare workers at the Scott Hospital in Morija, in the Matsieng constituency. The vaccines were received on March 4.
Lesotho received 36 000 as part of an initial tranche of deliveries of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine licensed to the Serum Institute of India, which represents part of the first wave of COVID-19 vaccines headed to several low and middle-income countries.
Speaking Sekatle, advised the nation against rife unfounded theories and misconceptions on social media about the vaccine, and to accept it to prevent unnecessary deaths.
“All the districts were fully prepared to receive the vaccine now that it has been distributed to several health facilities vaccination will begin as soon as possible,” he continued.
“I am very happy and thankful for this; my hope has been regained for our nation. I just wish we can receive this vaccine in large numbers so that it can be able to reach all Basotho…especially our health care workers so that the rate of infection can be reduced.
The health minister further said government will order and purchase very little of the Pfizer vaccine “because it requires very cold temperatures and more advanced refrigerators, currently the country does not have that kind equipment.”
“They little amount purchased can only be kept in the normal refrigerators for 30 days, which will require health workers to have used it within the 30 days.”
Sekatle urged Basotho to test for COVID-19 and follow set safety measures, rules and regulations.
The Principal Chief of Matsieng Seeiso Bereng Seeiso said: “But we still need to be vigilant and continue to observe all the necessary COVID-19 protocols, this is not a cure it is just a preventative measure so that we can continue with our normal social and economic activities again.”
The second batch of the AstraZeneca vaccines is expected to arrive in the country anytime this month, which will cover 20 percent of the population, more vaccines to cover another 40 percent of the population is also expected from the African Union.
In her introductory remarks a nurse at Scott Hospital ‘Mannete Rapholo, revealed that three months ago at the beginning of a rapid surge in infection in the country some of the hospital’s workers were forced to stay at home to reduce the rate of the infection as many Basotho succumbed to the deadly virus.
Rapholo said the vaccine is going to reduce the rate of infection in the body of each person who is going to be vaccinated twice. She explained that after the first injection one will be vaccinated after 12 weeks.
“Immediately after being vaccinated on the arm of your choice pain will be felt for a short while and later feel tired, each and every person is being vaccinated, the second time is after 12 weeks.
After a person has been vaccinated they wait for 15 minutes to see if there are any sides effects which were not anticipated, but if there are none visible that does not mean they are immune, they should still adhere to the COVID-19 regulations.”