Madagascar ‘finally receives’ COVID-19 vaccines

Madagascar has received the first batch of World Health Organization (WHO)-approved COVID-19 vaccines, a 250,000-dose donation from India, where AstraZeneca vaccines are manufactured. Covishield is the vaccine’s brand name in India.

According to Face2Face Africa, this comes after months of the Malagasy government dragging its feet in signing up to the COVAX program. COVAX is an international co-operative program whose mission is to ensure that low and middle-income countries are not left behind in the distribution of coronavirus vaccines.

The island nation in the Indian Ocean is grappling with an outbreak of infections, with nearly 9,900 cases recorded in the last month, with at least 194 deaths. 

As a result of the resurgence, President Andry Rajoelina has softened his position on vaccinations and agreed to a rollout. 

On Friday, Health Minister Jean Louis Hanitrala Rakotovao said the first vaccinations would be delivered “within 15 days.”

Hanitrala did not say how many vaccines were secured, but said they would be a mix of Oxford/AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, and Johnson & Johnson. 

The first vaccinations would be provided to health and police personnel, he said.

“We need to establish a new strategy and organisation to confront this invisible enemy,” Rajoelina said in an address to the nation on Sunday.

In the meantime, hotels and schools are being turned into field hospitals to treat the influx of patients. Rajoelina has however pledged to provide more oxygen to health centers that are running low.

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