Sierra Leone receives AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 March 2021:

Sierra Leone has received the first batch of 96,000 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine from the COVAX programme – a global partnership co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), working with UNICEF as well as the World Bank, civil society organisations, manufacturers, and others. COVAX is part of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.

“This is a historic step towards our goal to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally, in what will be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history. The delivery is part of a first wave of arrivals of an initial 528,000 doses that will continue till end of May 2021,” the statement released today reads.

The AstraZeneca vaccine sent to Sierra Leone were manufactured under licence by Serum Institute (PVT) Limited in India.

The 528,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will kick start the vaccination of 20% of Sierra Leone’s eight million population, through the COVAX programme in its unprecedented effort to deliver at least two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries by the end of 2021.

This initial consignment of the Oxford vaccine and the immediate subsequent shipments will prioritise critical target groups such as frontline health professionals, the elderly and people with underlying health conditions.

“Throughout 2020, our health facilities have been faced with the task of responding to the pandemic, while at the same time, working to sustain the regular essential services – including providing maternal and child health services,” said Dr Austin Hinga Demby, Minister of Health and Sanitation (Photo).

“The life-saving vaccines which are now available for COVID-19, combined with the other important measures which we have adopted since the pandemic started, will afford us a good prospect to return to normalcy and to fulfil our obligations under the Universal Health Coverage Programme.”

Charlie Wetham – the Regional Head of Asia Pacific and Anglophone Africa at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said: “We are delighted Sierra Leone has today received its first COVAX vaccine doses and we look forward to the launch of the vaccination campaign in the coming days. Thanks to the work of the Government of Sierra Leone and of the COVAX partners, and with the support of our donors, we have been delivering on our promise to begin vaccinating vulnerable populations around the world – delivering over 10 million doses to our participating economies in the last 10 days.”

UN Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone – Babatunde Ahonsi, said: “The arrival of this first batch of Covid-19 vaccines in Sierra Leone under the COVAX Facility is testimony to the power of global solidarity in response to a global health and development crisis.  Strong international solidarity is similarly required to address other pressing global challenges such as the climate crisis that threatens the world’s quest for sustainable development”.

Dr Steven Velabo Shongwe – WHO Country Representative in Sierra Leone, said that; “Sierra Leone is at a turning point in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the country has now joined a growing number of other countries taking one of the most important actions to safeguard lives against COVID-19 through vaccination.  Deployment of the COVID vaccine should be seen as one of the critical measures that have to be taken in addition to the strict adherence to other public health measures such as the correct use of facemask, handwashing and social distancing. I wish to thank all the collaborating partners that are supporting this vision of equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines to reach the most vulnerable in Sierra Leone and the rest of the world.”

UNICEF Representative – Dr. Suleiman Braimoh, said that; “This is indeed a momentous occasion, which is a culmination of various efforts led by the Government of Sierra Leone to ensure that this pandemic is brought under control. UNICEF strongly believes that vaccinations are cost-effective ways to reduce the disease burden in a country, save lives.  As more people get vaccinated, the faster it will be for us to see a gradual return to normalcy and to better access to health, education and protection services for every child and their families.”

Development and technical partners, including the European Union, Government of Japan, UK Government, the US Government and World Bank, are supporting the deployment and roll out plans of the vaccines in Sierra Leone.

The vaccination will begin mid-March and will be rolled out in a phased approach. Health workers and people over 70 years of age are being targeted first, while the second phase will include other essential workers such as military, police personnel, and teachers/university lecturers.

For several months, COVAX partners have been supporting governments and partners in readiness efforts, in preparation for this moment. They have been especially active in working with some of the world’s poorest countries: those that will benefit from the Advance Market Commitment (AMC), an innovative financial mechanism to help secure global and equitable access for COVID-19 vaccines.

This includes assisting with the development of national vaccination plans, support for cold chain infrastructure, as well as stockpiling of half a billion syringes and safety boxes for their disposal, masks, gloves and other equipment to ensure that there is enough equipment for health workers to start vaccinating priority groups as soon as possible.

The statement released today says that, in order for doses to be delivered to COVAX Facility participants via this first allocation round, several critical pieces must be in place, including confirmation of national regulatory authorisation criteria related to the vaccines delivered, indemnification agreements, national vaccination plans from AMC participants, as well as other logistical factors such as export and import licenses.

“As participants fulfil the above criteria and finalise readiness preparations, COVAX will issue purchase orders to the manufacturer and ship and deliver doses via an iterative process. This means deliveries for the first round of allocation will take place on a rolling basis and in tranches,” the statement reads.

COVAX has built a diverse portfolio of vaccines suitable for a range of settings and populations; and is on track to meeting its goal of delivering at least two billion doses of vaccine to participating countries around the globe in 2021, including at least 1.3 billion donor-funded doses to the 92 lower-income COVAX Facility participants supported by the Gavi COVAX AMC.

Speaking at the handing over ceremony following the arrival of the vaccines at the Lungi International Airport, UN Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone – Mr. Babatunde Ahonsi (Photo), made the following remarks:

“Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen, the doses of Covid-19 vaccine being handed over to the Government and People of Sierra Leone today have been secured through the global initiative to make Covid-19 vaccines accessible to all countries. This initiative, COVAX, the Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility, is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), and the World Health Organization – working in partnership with developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, UNICEF, the World Bank, and others.

“I would therefore like to, on behalf of the United Nations, thank all the member states and other institutions that have contributed financial and other resources to the roll-out of this critical global solution to a huge global health challenge.

“We are glad to be joined here this evening by the British High Commissioner in Sierra Leone, His Excellency Simon Mustard, and the EU Ambassador, His Excellency Tom Vens. We wish to thank the countries that you represent for the significant contributions that they have made to COVAX. We would also like to thank the World Bank, through its Country Director, Ms. Gayle Martin, for availing Sierra Leone resources for the deployment of Covid-19 vaccines.

“COVAX is the only truly global solution to this pandemic because it is the only effort to ensure that people across the world will get access to COVID-19 vaccines irrespective of their income level. Yet, it still needs to be fully funded.

“With this pandemic, we know we are only safe if everyone is safe. It is thus in every country’s national interest to work for universal access to Covid-19 vaccines, as a global public good.  The arrival of this first batch of Covid-19 vaccines in Sierra Leone under the COVAX Facility is a testimony to the power of global solidarity in response to an unprecedented global health and development crisis.  Strong international solidarity is similarly required to address other pressing global challenges such as the climate crisis that threaten the world’s quest of sustainable development.”

With the welcome arrival of the Oxford vaccine to Sierra Leone on the heels of 200,000 doses of Chinese-made vaccine that arrived in Freetown last week, amidst serious concerns about the safety and efficacy of the Chinese vaccine, questions are now being asked about whether the government will force a sceptic citizen to take the Chinese vaccine.

Many in Sierra Leone have said they will not be taking the Chinese vaccine. There are calls for the President, his family, government ministers, the Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, and the entire Chinese community in Freetown to be the first to line up in public to receive the Chinese vaccine.

17 Comments

  1. Thanks Mr weicha for your imput. Yes last week I had my own jab. And so far I am doing okay. I am a keen marathon runner sub 2.46, and so far I am doing well. I am training for the next. I am so addicted to my running I will never put anything in my body tbat will istop me doing my favorite past time. The way I look at it, it is not for me to say we should start strapping people down or pin them down and force them to take it. My argument is, if you don’t want to take it, so be it. No one will force you to. But you should not campaign against. Period. There are anti vaccine protesters all over the place. In Europe, America less so in Africa. What you will find is, the countries that were able to handle the outbreak of Covid19, are those countries that have leaders like ours, Bio, German leaders, New Zealand, Australia Vietnam, even China and many others that recorded less covid19 deaths per population than say for instance, leaders that took their time to recognise the existence of the pandemic.

    The USA, Brazil Uk, Mexico and so on. Even India that has one of the largest populations in the world suffered less deaths, because tbeir leaders kept an eye on the ball. Some vaccine sceptics are for religious reasons. Some are even saying it will damage fertility in women. Some Muslims are saying tbe vaccine contains pork or alcohol. Bottom line is since the vaccine roll out, the death rates and infection rates around the world has gone down. This suggests to me it is working. According to one Chinese leader “It doesn’t matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it can catch a mouse” This is a once in a century pandemic. We have never experienced this sort of thing. So we learn as we tackle it.

  2. Mr. Abraham Amadu Jalloh, you will find it worldwide, that all people sceptical against this corona pandemic and this new developed vaccines are conspicacy theorists, often called egoists, right wing people or anti-semitists (specially in Germany). But the fact is everywhere – there is a fundamental restriction of human rights, an oppression of critical voices and discussion in the mainstream media. Only like now in obviously critical cases you find a report.

    Today look at bbc-world, after norway, denmark thailand stopped the use of Astra Zeneca vaccine. so, please stay critical and use also information beside government mainstream announcements.

  3. By God, Mr. Jalloh, you seem to have a serial obsession with Donald Trump. It’s either that or you must think that I’m some type of fan of his, hence by mentioning his name during these discussions I’m supposed to be negatively affected by it. Seriously, because there seems to be a pattern of you mentioning his name whenever I’m implicated in one of your emotionally charged rhetorics, irrespective of the topic at play. If you think I’m a fan of president Trump then you clearly have a bad sense of judgment. It would baffle me if you did in fact managed to come to such conclusion – outright lunacy in my estimation.

    But then again you might just have a genuine love for the guy. If so then maybe you should think of sending him a kite – a letter, and tell him how you can’t keep his name out of any of your conversations. Tell him how you love him so dearly and wish to give him a visit, and the only thing that’s stopping you is fear of being rejected. Because you starting to sound like a pathetic ex girl of his, whose heart has been broken thousands of times by him.

    Also, I’m not sure about you being a brother, because in all honesty you kind of give me the anti African vibes. And anyone who is anti African/black is certainly not my brother.

  4. I don’t think calling people conspiracy theorist works any longer. The term has become kind of outdated, and the efficacy that it once had on people’s emotions is literally non existent in this day and age. You should try harder. As a matter of fact the phrase fake news holds more weight than the aforementioned in terms of the psychological and emotional effect it once propelled on its casualties. And in all honesty that is not even enough to shake some of us who tend to uphold consistency in our thinking. Maybe you oughta dig a little bit deeper. Come up with something more organic that could potentially ruffle the feathers of the people who you may be speaking to.

    • Thanks Mr. Kalokoh you clearly seem to have an issue with my opinion piece. I like intellectual debates, I don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories. I certainly do not see you as an enemy rather a Sierra Leonean brother who likes to pick out sound bites and think you can run away with it. I will challenge your ideas and Trumps ideas everyday my brother. It seems to me, you never once contributed to anything meaningful on how to advance our country. You seem in your own unique way to pick on the personality, and this is not restricted to me.

      Not long ago on this forum you are pointing out how our young ACC commissioner Ben Kiafala is putting on weight. Now help me out what has that got to do with the important work he is doing to fight corruption in Sierra Leone? Those are cheap shots that have no meaning to the ongoing debate. COVID19 is real. Two million people have died of it. I wonder what you make of that fact. Please if you are not going to take the vaccine, that is okay. But it is unforgivable if you go a step further and campaign against it. Please my Brother try and make some meaningful contribution on this ongoing debate about how to improve our country than picking on sound bites, to deflect from the real issues we are all trying to highlight.

  5. The arrival in Sierra Leone of the first batch of vaccines under the COVAX scheme should indeed be celebrated considering that the AztraZeneca vaccine has emerged as a leading weapon in the fight against this unforgiving viral disease. That said, it should be borne in mind that just a couple of weeks ago, the same vaccine was judged in many European Union countries to be ineffective for people aged 65 and above. Only a week or two ago did President Macron and Chancellor Merkel go back on their initial scepticism about the efficacy of the vaccine. So, while we must encourage our compatriots to take the AztraZeneca jabs, getting them to go for SinoPharm jabs should not be ruled out.

    The Western media have been particularly unflattering in their assessment of vaccines produced in non-Western nations including China and Russia. There is a political and ideological war going on here and our country and continent should steer clear of it, thus maximising what there is to be gained from Western medical science and technology and its Russian and Chinese counterparts. As far as I am aware, there has been no report of mass casualties resulting from the roll-out of Chinese-developed Covid-19 vaccines in Turkey, Serbia, Indonesia or China itself.

  6. We thank the international community and governments for extending the hand of humanity to us. We are especially thankful because, as things appear, the budget for the buying and shipment of the vaccine were done done outside Sierra Leone. In other words ,the role of the government seems to have been kept in the periphery.

    Had the budget for buying and importation of the vaccine been handed to the government, only Allah/God knows what would have happened to it. Successive governments have been known to steal from the dead without battling an eyelid – no conscience. Remember Ebola (“kasankay”) and mudslide funds under Ernest? Remember “Chinagate”, COVID-19 funds, massive thievery of state funds – all under Bio?

    Let us all hope that henceforth the international community will do what has done this time – never allow funds for a particular purpose to reach the hands of our government, or they will disappear between corpses waiting to be buried in a mass grave. Disappearing things is the expertise of both SLPP and APC, that is why large diamonds disappear repeatedly between State House and Lungi Airport.

  7. I have taken my vaccine and it is almost a week now; so far I have not experienced any side effects. So if you are offered the jab, my advice to you is to take it. It is better to be safe than sorry. All that hulla bulla about how some people will react to it, and it will give you cramps, headaches,and getting feverish, is for the WhatsApp, conspiracy theorists Brigade. I am not suggesting it won’t happen, but chances are minimal. I accept we are all different and some may have allergic reactions to different things. For me the way I look at it, I haven’t heard of mass deaths because people took any of those vaccine develope over the course of this covid19 pandemic.

    Recently, we had the Ebola out breaks in Zerekoro, in the Republic of Guinea. The reason why there is less panic from the World Health Organisation, is because compared to the last outbreak in 2013/2015, it is because of the development of the tried and tested Ebola vaccine in Eastern Congo or DRC. Yes it takes ten years to develop a vaccine. I take no pleasure in saying this. Let us just pause, and think, maybe if Americans had taken more precautions in wearing face mask, and listened to CDC advice instead of politicking, about the virus, and how it infringe on their freedoms, maybe there would have been less deaths, as the Biden administrations has proved, by mandating the wearing of face mask in Federal public buildings.

    Sometimes people believe in protecting their freedoms, to the extent, even the freedom of exercising their rights to die. That tells you how American society is polarised when looking at the same problem, but interpreting it to fit their own narrative. It is those sort of people we need to protect ourselves from and protect them from their out of touch reality. With the vaccine, our country will able to come out of full restriction and start to figure out how tackle the pandemic that we never seemed to have developed a vaccine for. As for orruption and under-development, it seems to me, there is no urgency for that one.

  8. Scepticism of the Chinese vaccine is that, the rest of the world has never spoken or mentioned anything about the efficacy of the Chinese vaccine. Papa government be wise and research more about the Chinese vaccine with the outside world such as the WHO, Britain, USA etc etc. Please put the lives of the people first and not to regret later. May Mama Salone protect us from Coronavirus and what we will be injecting into our bodies to fight against this deadly virus.

  9. Welcome Oxford Astrazenica to Sierra Leone. This is fantastic and great news for Sierra Leone, Ladies and Gentlemen. The Oxford AstraZenica vaccine is very good and safe. I will guarantee every Sierra Leonean to take it. I also urge President Bio to order millions of doses of the Oxford AstraZenica vaccine to give the jab to every adult Sierra Leonean. Don’t tell me the economy is bad. The vaccine has every advantage you could think of. From safety, effectiveness, price and storage. To my fellow Sierra Leoneans, just take it if you are given. It is safe, effective and super. If you think of British standards, norms and values, think AstraZeneca. God bless the United Kingdom for producing a vaccine that is safe, affordable, which our people believe in and are ready to take. Take the Oxford AstraZenica jabs folks!

    • Oh Mr. Matturi, you are a big believer. All these vaccines are still on trial. Nobody knows up to now the side effects and the long term effects. And what is with south africa…they stopped this AstraZeneca vaccine because it has only small effect on this mutation of covid 19 virus.

  10. What a long story. No critical voices, only against this chinese vaccine. What is with Bill Gates and his interests behind this pandemie and his involvement (who, unicef etc.)?

  11. This is another very good development and indeed a sign that the new direction government is doing a great job of making life easier for the people of Sierra Leone. I implore all the people including the nay sayers to support the efforts of the Maada Bio led administration in making Sierra Leone a better place for us all. Paopa Salone go betteh.

    • Please read the article properly Mr Peter Dauda before giving credit to the old new direction. This vaccine was not bought or sourced by President Bio. Neither was he involved in negotiating it’s arrival. I am kindly asking you to Google the word COVAX. Google is the world’s best friend. Read this -https://www.gavi.org/vaccineswork/covax-explained. Is President Bio or the new direction involved? Inform me as quickly as you possibly can. God bless the WHO and the COVAX program for the good of humanity. God bless Oxford AstraZeneca and the British Scientists for their big brains. Yeah.

  12. This is good news for our families in Sierra Leone and I join the community at large to thank WHO and donors for their collaborative efforts and activities in Sierra Leone and other African countries. If there is scepticism about the Chinese vaccine, was WHO not involved in it as partners?

Tell us about your views

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.