New dawn for Botswana’s COVID-19 response
Gaborone, Botswana - 27 March 2021 – A shipment of 24 000 doses of the AstraZeneca South Korea COVID-19 Vaccine, has arrived at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Gaborone. Obtained from SKBioscience in South Korea, it is the first shipment of 100 000 vaccines purchased by the Government of Botswana, enabled through the COVAX Facility.
While receiving the COVAX consignment, Vice President Slumber Tsogwane remarked that the vaccines have been acquired by the Government of Botswana with the intention to vaccinate everyone in the entire population. He furthermore affirmed President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s intention to do all that is necessary to save lives, including foregoing planned development projects.
The shipment is the first of many that will be allocated to Botswana in the coming months through the COVAX Facility. The facility is working to accelerate the development of and access to COVID-19 vaccines. It is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) working in partnership with UNICEF as well as the World Bank, manufacturers, civil society organizations, and others.
“WHO and the COVAX partners are happy to support the Government of Botswana in combating COVID-19. These vaccines will complement the other public health measures including wearing masks, hand washing, and social distancing. Botswana has done a tremendous job in its efforts to control the disease and roll-out vaccination. We commend their efforts and reaffirm our commitment to support them further,” said Dr. Josephine Namboze, WHO Country Representative in Botswana.
This is the second batch of vaccines that entered the country this month. On 9 March Botswana received a donation of 30 000 COVID-19 vaccines from India. The Covishield vaccines are the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured locally by the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.
In the past year, over 36 000 people had been infected, over 500 lives lost, sluggish growth in the economy, and disruptions to everyday life. The COVAX Facility plans to deliver at least 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of this year. This is an exceptional global effort to make sure citizens worldwide have access to vaccines and that lives may be saved. The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine and the immediate roll-out of an extensive vaccination plan provides new hope in the continuing fight against the pandemic in Botswana.