THE entire world has been grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic for almost two years now and, therefore, President Hakainde Hichilema’s call that Zambia should put in place a vaccine programme as a mitigation measure is timely.
This initiative calls for concerted efforts by all stakeholders in order to ensure that the vaccines are easily accessible by the populace.
In his inaugural address to the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, President Hichilema bemoaned the low numbers of Zambians being vaccinated because of the non-availability of the vaccination.
The situation is similar in most developing countries and worse on the African continent where the majority of the people are wallowing in squalor.
Mr Hichilema notes that Zambia has only vaccinated three per cent of its population against the target of 70 per cent of the eligible populace by the third quarter of next year.
Since the pandemic broke out, over two billion vaccines have been administered globally, with the majority being from the developed world.
As there is no known cure for COVID-19, President Hichilema is right to state that mass vaccination is the only panacea to fighting the pandemic.
However, vaccinations are not a solution as there is need to do more to find a lasting solution to the pandemic that has brought untold misery on the entire humanity.
We are elated to note that UNGA is looking at more interventions with regard to vaccines, some of which have so far benefited Zambians.
According to President Hichilema, some of the interventions include the accessing of the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) and the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facilities.
Since April 14, this year, Zambia benefited from the COVAX facility, a move that has contributed to the building of resistance against the pandemic.
The first vaccine under the facility was administered mainly on top government officials to encourage ordinary citizens to follow suit.
As a nation, Zambia is indebted to the United Nations system for the support rendered under the COVAX facility and according to Health minister Sylvia Masebo, 653,092 Zambians have been vaccinated as at the beginning of this week.
Even then, vaccines are not a cure and we totally agree with President Hichilema in his address to Parliament on September 10, when he challenged scientists to develop medicines to respond to emerging health challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Scientists, engineers, research institutions and universities should explore medicines and technologies that will address the prevailing challenges.
In the meantime, as President Hichilema said on Tuesday, Zambians should take vaccines as a factor to build resistance and recovery from the virus.