Botswana Could Be First in Africa to Vaccinate Whole Population
Health officials in Botswana say they have reached agreements to get enough COVID-19 vaccine injections to treat the country's whole adult population.
If the country receives the 1.9 million vaccine doses it hopes for, it could become the first African nation to be fully vaccinated. The agreements were announced this week in a speech by Mosepele Mosepele, a member of Botswana's Presidential COVID-19 Task Force.
Botswana has an adult population of 1.6 million, but noncitizens will also be able to receive the vaccine, Mosepele said.
Last month, the country received 60,000 doses of the COVISHIELD vaccine, which is manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. COVISHIELD is produced in cooperation with the makers of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The Serum Institute of India is producing vaccines for the World Health Organization-supported COVAX vaccine program. That program seeks to deploy COVID-19 vaccines to poor and other nations around the world.
So far, Mosepele said more than 47,000 people in the country had been vaccinated since March 26. He added that he was not sure when the new vaccine supplies would arrive in Botswana. But the largest shipment -- 1.1 million doses -- was expected to come from U.S. manufacturer Johnson & Johnson.
This week, the government received 200,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine from China. Botswana's minister of presidential affairs, Kabo Morwaeng, has urged all people to get vaccinated without delay.
Morwaeng added that the country's health officials "will continue to ascertain that the vaccines we receive are safe for use by all of us."
Earlier this month, two people among the thousands who had been given the COVISHIELD vaccine died. Botswana health officials are investigating the incidents to establish whether there was any link between the deaths and the vaccines.
A spokesperson for the Botswana Nurses Union said it had urged the Ministry of Health to quickly begin its vaccine campaign once the new doses arrive. It is seeking a government plan with clear and simple instructions for people in all parts of the country to provide information about the campaign.
"The vaccine rollout plan should focus on using community halls so that we ease the burden on public health" centers, the spokesperson said.
Botswana has so far recorded more than 700 deaths from COVID-19, with February and March being the deadliest months. Overall, the country has identified more than 46,000 cases.
I'm Bryan Lynn.