Lesotho received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday via COVAX, a multilateral vaccine initiative, reported CGTN Africa. The country received 36,000 vaccine doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine licensed to the Serum Institute of India.
The shipment is the first tranche of many that will be sent to Lesotho in the coming months and year through the COVAX Facility, which is working to accelerate the development of and procurement of Covid-19 vaccines by several low and middle-income countries.
“This is a momentous occasion, COVID-19 has taken a toll on countries around the world and Lesotho is no exception. We know this is the first step,” said Richard Banda, WHO representative in Lesotho.
He went on to congratulate the Lesotho government, especially the ministry of health for its tireless efforts to protect Basotho and curb the spread of the virus in the country.
“We know the only way out of this crisis is to ensure that vaccinations are available for all,” said Anurita Bains, representative of UNICEF Lesotho.
He noted that the UN stands ready to support the roll-out of the COVAX program.
The COVAX facility is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organisation (WHO) working in partnership with UNICEF as well as the World Bank, manufacturers, civil society organizations, and others.
Lesotho has recorded 10,521 coronavirus cases including 305 fatalities so far. About 3,888 people have recovered from the deadly virus.
In related news, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom on Wednesday called for further research to develop more treatment options for COVID-19.
“For now, we have oxygen and dexamethasone, which are saving lives, and WHO is now reviewing the emerging evidence on other drugs like tocilizumab,” said the WHO chief at the ad hoc consultation on COVID-19 therapeutics. “But we need more treatment options for all phases of the diseases, and we need them fast.