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ZAMBIA RECORDS INDIAN VARIANT CASE

By KETRA KALUNGA

ZAMBIA has recorded one new Indian variant Covid-19 case from a person who travelled to the Asian country recently.

Government has meanwhile, suspended the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to use the remaining vaccine as second dose for those who have already received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

This follows increased Covid-19 cases in India which has prompted that country to prioritise the production of vaccines for its nationals.

Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary for Technical Services, Dr Kennedy Malama, said this was the only case of the Indian variant detected so far in the country.

Dr Malama said during the Covid-19 update that the person with the B.1.617 Indian variant has been isolated.

He however urged the public not to panic as all stringent public health interventions had been put in place to prevent any spread of the variant.

“We urge Zambians not to panic but ensure adherence to all the prescribed public health guidelines,” he said.

Dr Malama said Government has made a decision to ring-fence the remaining doses of AstraZeneca vaccines for use as a second dose for people who have already received the first dose.

He explained that this is because India, as the manufacturer, was now prioritising the production of vaccines for its citizenry and was therefore not exporting.

Dr Malama said the development has affected the production of the AstraZeneca vaccines for export and countries including Zambia were likely to encounter challenges in the acquisition of AstraZeneca through the COVAX facility.

Dr Malama assured that Government was up to the task and would ensure adequate vaccines were acquired and deployed to all parts of the country.

He also said that in the last 24-hours, an additional 5, 442 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine had been administered, bringing the cumulative number of those vaccinated to 120, 209.

He said of the 120, 209 people vaccinated, 114, 687 received AstraZeneca and 5, 522 were given the Sinopharm.

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