TODAY, Tanzania received one million COVID-19 vaccine doses shipped via the COVAX Facility, a coalition of various partners under the umbrella of World Health Organization (WHO) to “support the research, development and manufacturing of a wide range of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, and negotiate their pricing.”
This is a historic step towards the goal of COVAX to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally, in what will be the largest vaccine procurement at once in a country that initially denied the existence of the Coronavirus.
The arrival in Dar es Salaam marks a milestone for Tanzania in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic which has claimed lives and created a heavy burden on economy as well as on health facilities.
SAUTI KUBWA understands that the shipment – containing Johnson & Johnson vaccine – was facilitated by USA in its program to help Tanzania to curb the spread of the virus.
On receiving the consignment, The U.S. Embassy in Tanzania twitted; “U.S is pleased to announce delivery to Tanzania of over 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, delivered through COVAX in coordination with the African Union.”
SAUTI KUBWA was the first media outlet to break the news of the first consignment to arrive in late July as it learnt that African Finance Ministers and the World Bank Group had a virtual meeting to discuss how to fast-track vaccine acquisition to countries in the continent and avoid a much fearful third wave of the Coronavirus.
Tanzania has already identified priority groups who will be among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. These include health care workers, teachers, the elderly, the sick and other groups who are at higher risk of COVID 19 infection than the general population due to the nature of their work.
Others includes police, immigration, defence force, prison warders, prisoners and people with underlying conditions.
Receiving the consignment, Tanzania Minister for Health Dr. Dorithy Gwajima said the country is now ready to start offering vaccines to those who will be willing to get the jab.
“The arrival of these vaccines contains the promise that our President Samia Suluhu Hassan had assured citizens and we can turn the tide on this disease that has caused so much hardship in our country and across the world,’’ she said.
Dr Gwajima was accompanied with her counterpart Foreign Minister, Liberata Mulamula and US Ambassador to Tanzania, Donald Wright.
SAUTI KUBWA understands that WHO country office in Tanzania has been working with expanded program on immunization of the Ministry of Health from the outset in all activities that led to successful application for COVID-19 vaccine from the COVAX Facility.
Some of the activities included provision of technical support to assess country’s readiness to introduce COVID-19 vaccine through preparation and submission of a monthly vaccine introduction readiness assessment tool.
The WHO also provided technical support in the engagement with the Tanzania Immunization Technical Advisory Group that provided recommendations regarding priority target groups and the type of vaccine to be used.
COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) and WHO – working in partnership with developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, UNICEF, the World Bank, and others. It is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.