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I n January 2021, Malawi continued to record high numbers of new cases, new deaths, and new admissions since the start of second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to Insight Bulletin the Co-chairperson for Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 Dr. John Phuka said the increase in cases of the pandemic is a sign that the virus is spreading very rapidly.

“It is very sad to note that most of the new cases are locally transmitted. This shows that people are not following COVID-19 preventative measures that are put in place,” said Phuka.

Just few days after the tragic death of the country’s two cabinet ministers, Sidik Mia and Lingson Mbelekanyama on 12 January, 2021, President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera declared a state of national disaster in response to the spike, and directed that schools should be closed for three weeks, and later extended for another two weeks paving way for government to monitor the situation on the ground.

Speaking during a press briefing Chakwera said: “We must all accept that Covid-19 is here, that it will be here for some time, that it is real, and that it kills. And people should also have in mind that the country does not have enough money for combating the pandemic.”

Chakwera also urged the general public to accept the contextual realities and ending the selfish and careless behaviors fueling the pandemic at individual and communal levels. However, there is now hope that the world has developed different types of vaccines to combat the pandemic; boosting the body immune system against the virus.

According to the World Health Organization – WHO over 25 trails of vaccine have been developed, among them Pfizer, Moderna and Astrazeneca. According to Thomas Reuters Foundation Pfizer-biontech is 95% effective whiles Moderna and AstraZeneca-Oxford funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are 94% and 70% respectively.

Over 1.3 billion tubes of vaccine have been ordered by African countries; however, this has created fears among ordinary citizens that the vaccine might be more harmful than the virus. President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera announced that his government has finally secured doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to immunize a number of citizens in the country against COVID-19.

The vaccine which is expected to arrive at the end of February and rollout in March this year will be administered to 20 percent of the country’s population for a start prioritizing health frontline workers, the elderly and those with underlying conditions.

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