Swaziland Coronavirus Recovery in Jeopardy As Purchase of Vaccine Halted

King Mswati III of Eswatini disembarks from a plane at Sochi International Airport as he arrives to take part in the 2019 Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, Russia, 23 October 2019.

Swaziland's coronavirus recovery strategy has been derailed after Minister of Health Lizzie Nkosi announced the tiny kingdom would no longer use the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Only last week she announced the vaccine would play the major tole in the first phase of the recovery plan for kingdom (also known as eSwatini).

Swaziland, which borders South Africa, was due to receive AstraZeneca doses from the COVAX Facility, the global vaccine distribution scheme co-led by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

South Africa has stopped the rollout of AstraZeneca shots, after researchers published preliminary data showing the vaccine was less effective against the new variant of coronavirus (COVID-19) that is spreading in southern Africa.

The eSwatini Observer newspaper reported close to 90 percent of coronavirus cases in South Africa have the variant.

Nkosi told state television on Tuesday (9 February 2021) the Swazi Government would consider getting doses from Pfizer or any other supplier endorsed by the WHO.

Swaziland had expected to receive 108,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of February. Frontline healthcare workers would have been the first to get the vaccine.

As of Tuesday 16,288 people had tested positive for coronavirus and 610 had died, according to Ministry of Health figures.

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