FORMER health minister Dr Jonas Chanda says it is a source of concern that the COVID-19 vaccination programme has lost momentum.

In an interview, Tuesday, Dr Chanda wondered why government had toned down the COVID vaccination programmes when the country had received huge quantities of vaccines from various partners.

“If you look at the COVID-19 vaccination programme, my concern is that nowadays, I hardly hear about the COVID vaccination programme, I don’t know whatever has happened. All I know is that countries donated a lot of vaccines to Zambia and I just don’t know how the uptake is of the vaccines and we should also know that a fifth wave will come. I don’t know what has happened to the vaccination programme, it’s not so much emphasised,” he said.

“I don’t know what has happened to those vaccines that we have received. If people are not getting vaccinated, then sooner or later, the vaccines will expire and therefore will have to be thrown away like what we have seen in other countries. We cannot tell in the fifth wave which type of variant will come, that’s the problem with the COVID issues. So I think it needs to be prepared that there will be a fifth wave and also, to ensure that the vaccination programme gets some momentum. Of course it is voluntary, no one should be forced but it should be part of that emphasis.”

He warned that the fifth wave could have a devastating impact if people were not vaccinated.

“If you look at what is happening today in China, China is currently experiencing high numbers of cases compared to when COVID just started in that country in 2020. So China is already in problems, they are experiencing a lot of cases. I don’t know whether it is due to the Winter Olympics that they just had recently but China is already having that. So even here, we are going to have more cases and sooner or later there will be a fifth wave. So it’s better to prepare for that but also to ensure that as many as people get vaccinated,” said Dr Chanda.

“Again, we just have to learn with COVID like we have seen in other countries whether it’s the UK in Europe, we have to know that it is not going away today, it will come back in one form or the other and so we have to remind the people of the same five golden rules. For now I think a lot of countries have relaxed those measures but when the fifth wave hits in whichever form, we just have to make sure people are already prepared, the health care system is prepared.”