The Chronicle Gambia

Gambia’s COVID-19 Vaccine Shortage – The desperate Wait Gets Longer

Three weeks after The Gambia government announced that it is out of stock of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, the status quo remains. Worst, the planned deployment of the Sinopharm vaccine on July 5th did not start. 

The Gambia began its vaccine drive in March this year, amid surging cases and a fair bit of hesitancy when it first arrived. The country received the first consignment of 36,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine under COVAX. But three months on, the AstraZeneca jab went out of stock in the country, and cases are soaring again.

As of June 25th, 2021, 31,254 and 12,303 people have received the 1st and 2nd doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, respectively, bringing the total number to 43,557 people.

When the AstraZeneca doses first arrived in the country, many people were hesitant to take the jab. But now that people are keen to take their first or second dose of the vaccine, they are told that AstraZeneca is out of stock in the Gambia.

Yahya Sowe, an Entrepreneur, is one of the people who could not travel because since he did not get his second dose. He told the Chronicle that he is disappointed. 

 “My second jab was on June 24th, and I was supposed to travel to Istanbul, Turkey on July 1st, and I was asked to present my vaccine card. Because of that, my trip has been canceled.

Amadou Ceesay also wanted to take his first jab after being convinced by a friend to take it. However, a few days later, He told the Chronicle that when he saw that AstraZeneca is out of stock in the country, he was disappointed.

Since then, my interest in taking the vaccine has been low. I’ve more trust in Astrazeneca than the rest of the vaccines.”

Missed Rendez-Vous with the national Sinopharm vaccine rollout 

In June, the Gambia’s Ministry of Health said in a Press Release that the Medicine Control Agency of The Gambia had given authorization for using the Sinopharm COVID- 19 vaccine. The green light followed the World Health Organization’s approval of the vaccine under the Emergency Use Listing (EUL) for the vaccine to be rolled out globally.

When the vaccination becomes effective, individuals need to receive two doses at intervals of 3 – 4 weeks to be fully protected with the vaccine.

The Ministry of Health planned to roll out the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine from July 5th, 2021. However, it did not happen this Monday as planned.

Early March 2021, Senegal donated about 10000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to The Gambia. But this is not the consignment of vaccines planned to be used from July 5th.

Officials at the Gambia’s Ministry of Health did not pick our calls to answer questions regarding the missed Rendez-Vous with the national Sinopharm vaccination rollout. However, sources in the Ministry of Health told The Chronicle that the consignments of Sinopharm doses planned for the deployment have not yet arrived in The Gambia. 

It now remains to be seen when the doses will arrive for the Gambia to catch with the momentum that dropped following the stock depletion of the AstraZeneca vaccines.

Meanwhile, the number of Covid-19 related infections has risen again.

COVID-19 rules relaxed as Cases soared

You may think that the Coronavirus disease is still not around in The Gambia as you go about your regular business. All the COVID-19 rules are relaxed. Most people are not adhering to the COVID-19 preventive protocols. The rules are no longer enforced compared to when the pandemic hits the country in early March 2020.

However, it is good to know that Covid19 is still around, and The Gambia is still registering several COVID-19 cases as days pass.

So far, the country has officially registered 6,116 with 5,862 recoveries and 182 deaths as of June 2021. 

About 59 percent of confirmed cases are Males, and 62 percent of confirmed cases are below 40 years of age.

However, there are still 58 contacts lost to follow up and about 82 people are being monitored in quarantine centers.

The practice of handwashing and social distancing slipped as early as May through June. However, in that same timeframe, gatherings have resumed as some restrictions loosened.

The pandemic had its toll on The Gambia, affecting the citizens’ health, social and economic well-being. But the most hardest hit sector of the country’s economy is the Tourism sector which is the major contributor of 12 to 16 percent directly to the country’s Gross domestic product (GDP)


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