United States’ Johnson and Johnson Vaccines Arrive in Malawi

07 August 2021
US funded COVID-19 vaccines arrive at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe
UNICEF Malawi/2021/Moving Minds

Lilongwe, Malawi, 7 August, 2021: Today, Malawi received 302,400 doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccine donated by the U.S. government through the COVAX facility, bringing the total vaccine doses the country has so far received through the United Nations-led facility to 854,400.

The donation is part of the U.S. government’s global vaccine-sharing strategy, which aims to provide at least 80 million vaccine doses to countries most affected by the pandemic, including at least 25 million with African countries.

Since July 1, 2021, there has been an exponential increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Malawi, with an average of approximately 500 new cases and 12 deaths per day, which are double the numbers in June. Meanwhile, vaccination rates remain extremely low, with less than 1 percent of the population vaccinated.

The additional COVID-19 vaccines will help protect Malawians from COVID-19, reduce barriers to building back the country’s economy, and urgently fill the supply gaps in order to vaccinate vulnerable and at-risk populations. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has provided nearly $37 million (approximately 32 billion  MWK) to the COVID-19 response in Malawi to reduce COVID-19 morbidity and mortality through testing, clinical care, surveillance, and support of an efficient and effective vaccination program.

“The United States is proud to affirm our partnership and friendship with the Government of Malawi through the donation of these vaccines. As the world’s largest donor to COVAX, we are doing this with the singular objective of saving lives,” said U.S. Embassy Chargé d'Affaires  Jeremey Neitzke.

“We are excited to receive yet another consignment of over 300, 000 doses of COVID 19 vaccine. This is timely,” said Minister of Health, Hon Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, MP.

The UN recently facilitated the delivery of 192,000 doses through COVAX, which added to the 360,000 doses previously received through the facility in March and continues to closely work with partners to get more doses into Malawi.

UNICEF is leading the procurement and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility in the largest, most complex ground operation in the history of immunization. In Malawi, apart from supporting the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, UNICEF continues to support the Government of Malawi’s immunization programmes through planning, cold chain management, demand generation, and training health workers.

“As many countries still face vaccine supply challenges, this donation from the U.S. Government is an important way to close the supply gaps and ensure the most vulnerable - healthcare workers, teachers, the elderly, and those in hard-to-reach areas, are protected from COVID-19. For all of us, these doses represent more than just protection. They represent hope for the children of Malawi and an opportunity for them to continue their education, access critical services, hug their friends and family, and simply be children,” said UNICEF Malawi Deputy Representative Margarita Tileva.

The U.S.-made Johnson and Johnson vaccine can be stored under conventional vaccine storage conditions, enabling distribution to far-flung areas, where populations can be fully protected with a single dose. This support is critical to controlling the pandemic, slowing the emergence of new variants, and helping to restart the global economy.

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Rebecca Phwitiko
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