LILONGWE, June 19 — Malawi has run out of COVID-19 vaccine doses amid a sharp rise in confirmed cases of the pandemic.
A consignment of 900,000 doses the country was expecting at the end of May through the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility is yet to arrive, the Ministry of Health and Population Services said in a statement Thursday, blaming the delay on the recent worsening of the pandemic in India, a major manufacturer of vaccines.
Malawi “is experiencing stockouts of the vaccine in many vaccination sites due to the delay in the arrival of the next consignment of the vaccines in the country,” the statement said. “The Ministry is working tirelessly with other partners, both bilateral and multilateral, to make the COVID-19 vaccine available in the country at the earliest time possible as we await the next consignment from the COVAX facility.”
In the initial vaccination phase supported by COVAX, the Malawi government plans to cover 3.8 million people, or 20 percent of the country’s population, including frontline health workers, social workers, the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems.
Malawi received its first consignment of 360,000 doses from the COVAX facility in March, followed by 102,000 doses from the African Union, and 50,000 doses from the Indian government.
As of Thursday, 378,694 and 27,473 people had received the first dose and second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine respectively, meaning that 406,167 doses have been administered in the country so far.
As of Thursday, Malawi had recorded 34,702 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,164 deaths, according to an update on the pandemic by health minister Khumbidze Kandodo Chiponda.
Nearly 20,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were destroyed in May after the shots had reached their expiry dates.