THE Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI) says the first consignment of the 228,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will expire in July this year.
And Flash Buses proprietor Ishmael Kankara says Zambians should stop believing the myths and conspiracy theories on the COVID-19 vaccination.
Speaking during the launch of the ‘Zambia We Want’ project on Radio Phoenix, Thursday, ZNPHI Head communications, information and Research Mazyanga Liwewe said the country would receive another dose of vaccines next month.
“The principle of expiry is that you know that this thing I have manufactured whether it’s a drug, whether it’s food, whether it’s cosmetic, works in this manner, for this certain period of time. And then you put a date to it, that ‘after this, I am not very sure this thing will be effective as I said it will be’. So it goes with the vaccine. Even when they made the first vaccine, the first batch under Astrazeneca were expiring around April and that is because in the observations that were made at the time they were making those vaccines, they were comfortable to say four months, we are very sure this vaccine is safe to use. But now, the expiry date has changed. What we have received for example in Zambia expires on 29th July, it has a longer period. I can assure you that in May we will have the second set of vaccines,” Liwewe said.
“If you notice, there are certain restrictions like now we are saying ‘we are not sure how long it will take for you to be protected against the disease because we have only observed people for a certain period of time’. Remember the trials started over nine months ago, we only started vaccinating a few months ago. So we are talking about a short period of time and saying ‘we know it will protect you from severe disease in this short period but as we continue to review, observe and learn more, we will be able to say ‘oh actually this vaccine will protect you for even over two years’. As we did with the yellow fever vaccine. In terms of the protection, we can only use the evidence that is there right now. And like I said to you, right now we are saying ‘probably six months’ because we have only observed people for that period of time. But we don’t know it’s probably even longer like other vaccines provide protection for a longer time. It is also possible it will be much longer. But based on what we have seen, what we have observed, based on science at the moment, for a number of people we have observed, we are saying we are comfortable to up to six months.”
Liwewe said the COVID-19 vaccine would help to boost the immunity.
“It is important to note that the COVID-19 vaccine is not the first vaccine that we are using in this country, even the world. We have been vaccinating our children, our teenagers even adults in some cases against different diseases with vaccines since the 70s. Vaccination is something that is given to you to prevent infections or disease. In the COVID-19, as is with most viruses, we did recognize the importance of having something to prevent even while we treat people who are infected with COVID-19,” she said.
“When you are vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine, what happens is that your immunity is boosted to prevent you from getting the severe disease and even death. When the vaccine is injected into your body, it makes your body react as it would if there was an infection to prevent antibodies. And these antibodies will protect you when you are encountered with the actual disease or the actual virus that will cause the disease. There are different types of vaccines, some are one dose vaccine and they will immediately cause that action in your body and within two, three weeks, your body should have produced enough antibodies to protect you from severe disease or even death.”
And Liwewe said people that took the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine would need to be administered with a second dose.
“The one that we are taking here currently, the Astrazeneca needs to be given twice. The first time is that it produces that immune response in your body and produces a certain number of antibodies. But we need a higher amount of antibodies. By the way, even the virus itself causes the production of certain antibodies. But the amount of antibodies are not adequate to protect you from a further infection. So when they give you the second dose, you produce even more antibodies which go into your memory cells and are able to protect you from severe disease. What is also important to note is the vaccine will not protect you from getting infected, so you could get the virus but it will protect you from severe disease. It will protect you from even death,” Liwewe said.
When asked by a caller only identified as Vincent on theories that the Western world wanted to wipe out the population in Africa, Liwewe said if that was true, they would have done it a long time ago.
“If the Western world wanted to get rid of us they would have used all those methods a long time ago. We have a lot of therapeutics coming from outside the country, we have a lot of drugs and medicines coming from outside the country. Why should they wait for the COVID-19 to get rid of our population, they should have done that a long time ago,” said Liwewe.
Meanwhile, Kankara said Zambians should stop the conspiracy theories.
“Everybody has fears, we are human beings aren’t we? But the way I look at it is that our fears are misplaced. Where we are supposed to fear we don’t fear. Our government right from the beginning has been advising us through the Ministry of Health to take precautions and we were relaxed until our community members started dying, we became a bit strict, we started putting on masks. We started hygiene methods washing hands until the wave went a bit down and we forgot about it again and it keeps on happening. We don’t have to go far, we are looking at India through different means, online, national TV and we know India is on fire, why? People were relaxed. In Zambia, we are relaxed even now,” he said.
“I think it’s time Zambians wake up and stop this, believing in the myths and conspiracy theories which are going around. The sad part is that people believe anything, even educated people. We have been given an opportunity through the hard work of these angels, they work 24/7. I know many people in the Ministry of Health and the amount of work they are doing are unbelievable. To try and help us to provide us with the screen protector of our lives and yet we are not taking it because we are thinking that we are going to stop producing children, we are thinking that it is going to give us long term effects.”