MINISTRY of Health Permanent Secretary for Technical Services Dr Kennedy Malama has assured that there will be transparency in the administration of the 151,200 doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccine which have arrived in the country.

And US Embassy in Zambia interim Charge d’Affaires David Young says the donation will help protect Zambians from the ravages of the COVID-19 virus and reduce the barriers to building back the economy.

Speaking when he received the 151,200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine donated by the American government at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, Wednesday, Dr Malama said government would put the doses to good use and avoid wastage.

He said members of the public would be guided on how the vaccine would be rolled out.

“We continue learning lessons from countries that have vaccinated most of its population. The situation is far much better than we are seeing here. So Zambia still has a huge gap of attaining that. With the partnerships we are having, we are convinced that going forward, by the end of this year most of the people would have had a chance to get vaccinated. So once again, for us it is a work in progress, we are delighted that the vaccinations have arrived and we will swing it into action immediately. Tomorrow we will be guiding the nation on how these doses will be distributed and we do not want to lose time because every day we delay someone somewhere who is being infected, admitted to hospitals. We can say to the United States government that these doses will be put to good use. We pledge accountability as we manage these resources,” Dr Malama said.

“This afternoon, as we receive the vaccines, we would like to thank the United States government for supporting the vaccination programme globally but more importantly for Zambia. The 151,200 doses we are receiving this afternoon have been provided by the United States government under the COVAX facility. As you are aware, Zambia and the United States government have a long-standing collaborative relationship not only on HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis, but also in fighting COVID-19. The support is not only for the vaccination programme but in many other health programmes. So the receipt of these vaccines today is just a symbol of the long-standing partnership.”

And Dr Malama stated that the cumulative number of vaccinations to date now stands at 240,028.

“In the last 24 hours, we recorded 7,665 Dose one and 3,614 Dose two AstraZeneca vaccinations. The cumulative number of vaccinations to date now stands at 240,028 Dose one vaccinations (233,129 AstraZeneca and 6,899 Sinopharm). And of these, 72,451 have gone on to receive Dose two vaccinations [i.e. 66,115 Dose two AstraZeneca (28 percent of those that received dose one) and 6,336 Dose two Sinopharm (92 percent of those that received dose one)],” he said.

“Let me reiterate that although the vaccination programme is an undeniable game changer in our fight against COVID-19 in that it prevents severe disease and death, we should also continue adhering to the five golden rules. We continue encouraging members of the public to consider being vaccinated. For Zambia vaccination remains voluntary but we are urging people to get vaccinated as the benefits are huge. We project that we may see a surge in the number of cases towards the end of the year into 2022.”

Dr Malama further announced that 971 new COVID-19 cases and 24 new COVID-19 related deaths were reported in the last 24 hours.

“We recorded 971 new confirmed COVID-19 cases out of 5,682 tests (17 percent positivity). This brings the cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded to date to 188,573. The distribution of the new cases are as follows: Central 128, Copperbelt 132, Eastern 115, Luapula 90; Lusaka 138, Muchinga 81, Northern 133, North-western 6, Southern 106 and Western 42,” he said.

“24 new COVID-19 related deaths were reported in the last 24 hours; 19 of which have been classified as COVID-19 deaths and five as COVID-19 associated deaths. The breakdown of the new deaths by province is as follows: Copperbelt six; Lusaka five; Northern three; North-western three; Central two; Luapula two; Southern two; and Western one. The cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded to date now stands at 3,162 (classified as 2,355 COVID-19 deaths and 807 COVID-19 associated deaths).”

And Young said the donation would help protect Zambians from the COVID-19 virus and reduce the barriers to building back the economy.

“The U.S. Embassy in Lusaka, Zambia is pleased to announce the arrival of 151,200 doses of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine donated by the United States Government as part of its global efforts to fight the coronavirus. The vaccines were made available through the African Union COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility and are part of the U.S. pledge to provide at least 25 million of 80 million doses globally to Africa. The U.S. government coordinated closely with the African Union and Africa Centres for Diseases Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) on the country allocations. This donation will help protect the Zambian people from the ravages of the COVID-19 virus and begin to reduce the barriers to building back the Zambian economy,” said Young.

“This latest stage of the U.S.-Zambian relationship, reassures U.S. support to assist Zambia to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States is proud to strengthen our friendship through the donation of these life-saving vaccines. The third wave of COVID-19 has been especially difficult in Zambia. Through these vaccines, and the additional U.S. shipments to come, we partner to save lives. These 151,200 doses are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to share the U.S. vaccine supply with the world. As we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic at home and work to end the pandemic worldwide, President Biden promised that the United States will be an arsenal of vaccines for the world.”

Meanwhile, World Health Organisation country representative Nathan Bakyaita implored the global community to support the availability of COVID-19 vaccines across all continents.

“This consignment is extremely timely as Zambia seeks to reduce COVID-19 cases during the third wave. This consignment will enable the provision of vaccines to many Zambians who are keen to be vaccinated as witnessed by the numbers. The COVID-19 pandemic will only end after widespread vaccinations and adhering to the public health guidelines. Through this, many lives will be saved. The United Nations continues to implore the global community to support the availability of COVID-19 vaccines across all continents. No one will be safe until everyone is safe. Where transmission is high, viruses can emerge,” stated Bakyaita.

“We need to tackle the virus by protecting everyone. There is so much work that still needs to be done. Once again, let me thank the government of the United States for the generous global support of 3.5 billion US Dollars of the COVAX facility which is seeking to ensure that there is easy access to vaccines globally. Us, the United Nations, we pledge our continued support to Zambia and ensure the successful roll out of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.”