By Omar Bah
The Gambia Government has received an additional 151,200 doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine.
The second tranche of vaccines donated by the American government arrived in the country on Sunday.
The United States has donated a total of 302,400 vaccine doses to the West African country to assist it fight against the devastation of the pandemic.
The vaccines were received by the Minister of Health, government spokesperson and senior officials of the ministry at a short presentation held at the Banjul International airport.
Speaking shortly before receiving the donation, Minister of Health Dr Ahmadou Lamin Samateh commended the United States government through its Banjul Ambassador.
He said though the country still has vaccine hesitancy but “we have a good number of people who now understand that the vaccines will help to save lives”. “This week alone, we have had over 53, 000 vaccines administered. I think that is unprecedented but that notwithstanding our coverage is not as high as we want it to be. As we speak, 5.5% have received some form of vaccination and 4.2 % have been fully vaccinated out of 100%,” he said. He urged Gambians to come out in their numbers and get vaccinated. “We hope to see more people coming out this week to get vaccinated,” he said.
The United States Ambassador Richard “Carl” Paschall said President Joe Biden is committed to make the US an arsenal of vaccines for the world.
He said the Johnson & Johnson vaccines are safe and that they have 99% effectiveness in preventing people from being seriously ill of Covid-19.
“These vaccines have been administered on over fifteen million Americans and many more millions around the world. These vaccines underwent rigorous testing in the United States. It is certified by the WHO for global use, and has been approved by the Gambia Medicines Control Agency,” Ambassador Paschall said.
He commended the health ministry’s tremendous achievements in vaccinating over 50, 000 within one week.
This, Ambassador Paschall added, is “a credit to those workers who have worked so hard within short notice to convince fellow Gambians to get vaccinated”.
“I will urge all Gambians to recognise that the Gambia can be a leader in the world in vaccination rate and if you are a leader in the vaccination rate you will be the safest destination for tourism and people will want to come to enjoy the Smiling Coast and its hospitality,” he said.
The UNICEF and World Health Organisation’s representatives at the presentation applauded the United States government for serving as leaders in the fight against the Covid-19. The top officials of the UN affiliates also hailed the Gambia Government’s efforts in the fight against the virus and called for more global solidarity.