TOPICS: Country storiesCOVAXCOVID-19

 

On 21 March 2020 Angola confirmed its first two cases of COVID-19. To fight the pandemic everything stopped: schools closed, public services reduced, the first state of emergency gave way to a state of public calamity. But, exactly a year later, the country began its return to normal life after the delivery of 624,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX initiative.

From 5 March until the middle of April, more than 400,000 people were vaccinated, with their second dose scheduled for May. Until that date, the country had a cumulative 24,389 confirmed cases, of which there were 22,597 recoveries, 561 deaths and 1,231 active infections.

Almost 10,000 teachers and other pre-school staff were vaccinated here to ensure that children could return to school safely.

With this first batch of vaccines, estimated at around 10% of the needs of the country's first vaccination phase, the government immunised health professionals, vulnerable people and those with comorbidities.

The first thing one sees upon arrival at the “Paz Flor” Tourist Complex in Luanda’s Morro Bento neighbourhood is the parking lot, with cars also spilling onto the side of the road outside. At the main entrance, there is a banner with ‘COVID-19 Vaccination Station’ written in red letters on a blue background. On 10 March, the complex become one of the city’s immunisation sites.

Almost 10,000 teachers and other pre-school staff were vaccinated here to ensure that children could return to school safely.

"It will be good to see my students again and do what I like most. It is a great sign of hope that the world will soon overcome this pandemic", says Edgar Silva, 35, after receiving his dose.

Next to Silva is 89-year-old Moisés Chivukuvuku. Silva was vaccinated due to his profession, Chivukuvuku due to his age. He arrived at 9:00am, had quickly received his first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and was patiently waiting for his immunisation card and guidelines.

Chivukuvuku says that it was his eldest daughter who signed him up to receive the vaccine, through the electronic platform created for the purpose. A retired priest of the Congregational Evangelical Church in Angola (IECA), he praised "the good organisation and speed" of the process.

"We left the house early, to avoid long lines, but when we arrived here, we saw that the elderly has priority. In just ten minutes, I had already been vaccinated," he says, looking at Silva, with a smile. "I'm glad that you can now teach again and spend time with your students," Chivukuvuku says to the younger man. 

He is also happy for himself, especially because he will be able to see his grandchildren. While retired, he still has something to offer to the church. 

In the first rollout stage, the objective is to vaccinate 20 percent of the population, prioritising people with continuous exposure, such as health professionals, social services, and public order and security personnel, people with comorbidities; and those aged 40 years and over. 

Vaccination is being done in two stages to confer immunity. In total, 12.8 million doses of vaccine supplied by COVAX will be used. 

"We will always look at the benefits that the vaccine brings. The vaccine is cheap, safe and saves lives. We will not lose our lives because we are not vaccinated," says Health Minister Sílvia Lutucuta.

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