Zambia Receives First Consignment of COVID-19 Vaccines

On 12 April 2021, Zambia received the country’s first consignment (228,000 doses) of the Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccines.

The vaccines have been procured by UNICEF, working closely with WHO under the COVAX Facility, co-led with GAVI and CEPI.

Minister of Health Dr Jonas Chanda received the vaccines that arrived aboard an Emirates plane from the Serum Institute of India.  UN Zambia Resident Coordinator Dr Coumba Mar Gadio, UNICEF Representative Ms Noala Skinner and WHO Representative Dr Nathan Bakyaita also witnessed the event together with over 20 Ambassadors and High Commissioners accredited to the Republic of Zambia to mark their support to improving the health and wellbeing of the Zambia people.

Speaking after inspecting the vaccines, Dr Chanda noted the support of the United Nations, donors and cooperating partners in Zambia’s efforts to fight COVID-19.

“This milestone is a result of the collective and tireless efforts by several players who include our donors, cooperating partners, our technical staff and many others and specifically the World Health Organisation and UNICEF who have worked very closely with the Ministry of Health,” said Dr. Chanda.

And the UN Resident Coordinator noted the collaborative effort and support by different stakeholders in making the vaccines procurement and rollout a reality.

“The United Nations in Zambia congratulates the Government of the Republic of Zambia on the immense work and leadership to enable the delivery of the country’s first COVID-19 vaccines on this historic day,” said Dr Gadio.

“This shows the power of partnership through the multilateral COVAX Facility, co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, WHO, CEPI, working in partnership with UNICEF, and supported by a large number of partners around the world. Vaccine equity is a moral test of global solidarity. But equally we will not be safe from this pandemic until everyone is safe,” she added.

According to the Health Minister, the vaccines will in the coming days be distributed to all parts of the country, starting with those most at risk such as health workers, traditional leaders, clergy, personnel at boarders, police and security personnel.

Vaccines in Zambia will be given on voluntary basis to 8.413 million eligible Zambians (46 per cent of the population), leaving no one behind. The COVAX facility will aim to cater for 20 per cent of the eligible population. The rest of the eligible population will receive vaccines under other modalities including donors, government, the Word Bank and private sector. As part of the COVID-19 National Vaccines Deployment Plan, a Communication Strategy will ensure the dissemination of key messages to all target groups to facilitate uptake of the intervention.

As at 12 April, Zambia has a cumulative 90,064 confirmed case of COVID-19, 1,227 deaths and 88,077 recoveries.  It is hoped that the vaccines will help prevent the further spread of the pandemic and protect the people from severe disease and death and ultimately help the country return to normalcy.

Written by
Mark Maseko
National Information Officer
Mark Maseko
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations Children’s Fund
World Health Organization