Mozambique: Covid-19 Vaccines Received From France and Portugal

Vaccine

Maputo — The French and Portuguese governments on Monday delivered 158,000 doses of vaccine against the Covid-19 respiratory disease to Mozambique.

Speaking at Maputo International Airport, at the vaccine reception ceremony, French ambassador David Izzo said the French donation consists of 108,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Since full vaccination requires two doses, this is enough to vaccinate 54,000 people.

Izzo said this donation is part of a joint effort by European countries to support the COVAX initiative, coordinated by the World Health Organisation (WHO), in distributing vaccines to developing countries.

"These vaccines are intended to speed up the vaccination of priority personnel, namely the health professionals who are on the front line, as well as the most vulnerable population groups", he said. (In fact, Mozambique has already vaccinated all its health professionals - they were the first to receive the doses of vaccine sent by the Chinese government in February).

For her part, the interim representative of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Katherine Johanson, reiterated UNICEF's commitment to supporting Mozambique's battle against the Covid-19 pandemic. She said that, despite the high demand for vaccines internationally, the United Nations system will continue working with the Mozambican government to ensure the availability of the vaccines for the majority of the population.

UNICEF teams, she added, will support the Ministry of Health in providing vaccination services and in strengthening the cold chain.

Deputy Health Minister Lidia Cardoso called for strict compliance with the preventive measures against Covid-19 (such as regular washing of hands, wearing masks, and social distancing). The government's efforts alone would not be enough to eradicate the disease, she warned. It was also necessary for the public to comply with the recommendations made by the health authorities. Only thus would Mozambique be able to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

Even with increased government efforts to increase vaccination coverage, "it is important that, individually and collectively we continue to practice preventive measures", Cardoso said.

WHO representative Tomas Valdez stressed that the COVAX target is to vaccinate at least 10 per cent of the world's population by September, at least 40 per cent by the end of 2021, and 70 per cent by mid-2022.

To reach these goals, Valdez called for equitable distribution of the vaccines. "These targets are critical and must be reached", he said, "so that together we defeat this pandemic. They are ambitious targets, but they are possible if we comply with the principle of equitable access to vaccines globally".

The Portuguese donation consisted of 50,000 doses of vaccine and about 142,000 face masks. At the ceremony, the Portuguese Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Francisco Andre, echoed the words of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that nobody will be safe if they are not vaccinated.

Cardoso told the Portuguese delegation that the donation will help reduce the number of new cases, at a time when Mozambique is experiencing a sharp rise in the number of new Covid-19 infections. "As we all know, Mozambique is being assailed by a third wave of Covid-19", she said. "Since mid-June, there has been a sharp rise in the number of infections, and so this donation comes at a good time".

"The vaccines we are receiving today from the Portuguese government", she added, "seek to prevent serious forms of the disease and deaths from Covid-19. They must be combined with other methods of protection, otherwise the efforts we are making will be in vain".

With these new donations, Mozambique has now received 1.402 million doses of vaccine. The earlier acquisitions were 500,000 doses purchased by private companies through the Univax initiative (United for Vaccination against Covid-19), 384,000 via COVAX, 260,000 from China and 100,000 from India.

Also on Monday, the US government, through the United Nations Agency for International Development (USAID), donated medical equipment and material valued at more than 200,000 dollars to Mozambique, intended to assist in the struggle against Covid-19. The donation was delivered to the Maputo City Council of State Representation Services (CSRECM).

The USAID interim representative, Martin McLaghlin, said the equipment "will help Mozambique respond to urgent needs for protective equipment, and oxygen, and to deal with the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases who require hospitalisation".

He stressed that the equipment will ensure that doctors, nurses and other health professionals can have greater flexibility in treating seriously ill Covid-19 patients, who have specific needs such as supplementary oxygen.

The Secretary of State for Maputo city, Vicente Joaquim, thanked the US government "for this noble gesture, which will certainly make a great contribution to the fight against the pandemic in our city".

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