Namibia warns over 268,000 AstraZeneca, Pfizer vaccines could be destroyed

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Namibia warns over 268,000 AstraZeneca, Pfizer vaccines could be destroyed

WINDHOEK, Nov 25, Reuters Namibia warned that more than 268,000 doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer COVID 19 vaccines are at risk of being destroyed as early as next week due to a slow uptake by citizens.

Ben Nangombe, executive director of the health ministry, told Reuters on Thursday that 52,261 AstraZeneca vaccines will expire on Tuesday next week, while 215,996 Pfizer shots will be destroyed in January and February if there is a rise in vaccine hesitancy.

Namibia, which has started vaccinating 12 to 17 year olds with the Pfizer vaccine after the WHO said on Nov. 15 that it is suitable for people in that age group, has 809,414 doses available nationally.

The number of active cases in the southern African nation was at 85 on Tuesday compared to a peak of 2,547 cases in a single day on June 24.

Only 298,503, or 20% of an estimated eligible population of 1.5 million, has been fully vaccinated in Namibia, with the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine the most effective after 145,483 people received two doses since the country s vaccination programme began in March.

The Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine has been used the least, with only 71 people fully vaccinated before its rollout was suspended on October 23 days after the drugs regulators in South Africa flagged concerns about its safety for people at risk of HIV.

South African health regulator SAHPRA has decided not to approve an emergency use application for Sputnik V after some studies suggested that vaccines using the Adenovirus type 5 vector can lead to higher susceptibility to HIV in men.

South Africa and Namibia have high HIV prevalence rates.