The Arrival of COVAX vaccines Raises Hope in The Gambia

News and Press Release
Originally published
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08 March 2021
Banjul International Airport, 2nd March, 2021

A milestone arrival of 36,000 doses of AstraZeneca COVAX vaccine in The Gambia; the vaccines were handed over to the Ministry of Health (MoH) at Banjul International Airport.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic when all countries are desperate to contain the virus transmission, The Gambia received the first consignment of 36,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, a significant step in controlling the pandemic. The pandemic had its toll in The Gambia affecting the health, social and economic wellbeing of the citizens.

COVAX Facility, a pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools ACT-Accelerator, was established to accelerate the global development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines. COVAX is co-led by GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), working in partnership with UNICEF as well as the World Bank, Civil Society Organizations, manufacturers, and others.

The leadership of the Ministry of Health, WHO and UNICEF Representatives were at the airport to witness the arrival of the first COVAX shipment.

WHO Representative, Dr Desta Tiruneh and UNICEF Representative, Lewis Jonathan handed over the COVID-19 vaccines to the Honorable Minister for Health on behalf of COVAX Facility partners.

The Mister for Health, Hon. Dr Amadou Lamin Samateh, acknowledged COVAX partners for coming together, in an innovative global collaboration, to support low- and middle-income countries in their efforts to contain the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and save lives.

“The Gambia’s government in collaboration with WHO, UNICEF, World Bank and other partners came together in unprecedented fashion to control the pandemic in the country.” said Dr Amadou Lamin Samateh.

“It’s significant that all people, classified as high risk groups by the Ministry of Health, i.e., health care workers, people with pre-existing health conditions, elderly men and women above 65 years, teachers, immigration and security apparatus are vaccinated in the coming weeks,” added Dr Amadou Lamin Samateh.

WHO Representative said that the COVAX vaccines are safe and effective.

“The vaccines provided through the COVAX Facility have fulfilled all the recommended Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) requirements and have passed all the laboratory and clinical trials on humans. As a result, the vaccines have been cleared for use by WHO,” said Dr Desta Tiruneh.

He also reminded everybody that these vaccines are not a cure for COVID-19 but vaccines are additional protective measure from getting COVID-19.

“After vaccination, all recipients of the vaccines should continue using other preventive measures such as maintaining appropriate social distancing, the use of facemask, and handwashing with soap and water,” said Dr Desta Tiruneh.

Over 10 media houses attended the event and journalists were urged to seek for clarity, on any information they need, from the Ministry of health, They were urged to report accurate information about the vaccine and support the efforts by fighting fake news and misinformation.

The 36,000 AstraZeneca vaccines will be equitably distributed to all the all regions of The Gambia and vaccination is expected to start in the coming days.

For Additional Information or to Request Interviews, Please contact:
Mr. Momodou Gassama
Health Promotion Officer
Tel: +220 4462286