An epidemiologist with the Kamuzu University of Health Sciences has expressed doubt on how government will implement the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine expected to roll out in January next year.
Speaking on Tiwuzeni Zowona programme on Sunday, Professor Adamson Muula explained that the vaccine is quite different from others as its efficacy lies in the fact that it helps those who have already received from not getting very sick.
He indicated the setback is that it doesn’t prevent the spreading of the virus from one person to another as even the vaccinated are contracting COVID-19 although they don’t get critically ill.
According to the health specialist, this is where the problem is unlike the other vaccines which are able to prevent the transmission.
“If it were able to protect one from transmitting the virus to another person, then there could have been justification as it’s not only about one person, no but it also involves other people and they shouldn’t be out at risk hence government could be able to intervene.
“Currently, evidence regarding this vaccine is that it will not prevent one from transmitting to others hence it will be difficult to make this vaccine compulsory. It will be difficult, but for government is to go ahead, it can do it that if one gets sick, the government shoulders the burden instead of using the money for development.”
During the programme he also spoke on Malawi’s capacity to detect COVID-19 variants and others to come.
Professor Muula condemned the decision by Europe and the US to put more travel restrictions on African countries describing it as a hurried one and wrong.
He is upbeat that more vaccines could be used if more people get vaccinated but not at the current pace of 10, 000 to 11000 people per day.
The epidemiologist attributed the hesitancy for people to get vaccinated to some unfounded fears on its effects and it being a new phenomenon in the country and the world at large.
Commenting on government’s decision to start mandatory jabs in January in certain categories, he stated that the good thing is people have been given up to a month before the exercise commences.
Muula has taken a wait and see approach to see how it will be done when that time comes or if it will indeed be carried out.
“What happens when something is imposed on people, it happens in medicine it’s not unusual that a person can be forced to receive treatment like for instance, in Malawi doctors have the powers whenever they deem it fit that when one has mental illness, as there are times one isn’t aware that he or she is mentally unstable. In this case, a doctor is empowered to write a report and take the person to a mental facility at Zomba. This is a possibility and it’s within the law, and no one can question this move.
“Even at the mental hospital if one wants to get out, he can be forced up until he is better as we believe that is in the patient’s best interest,” he said.
According to the epidemiologist, wearing a mask, observing social distance and hand-washing can be enforced using the law and those flouting these can be arrested fined and can serve a jail sentence.
He lamented that authorities should have taken advantage of the Silver Nyasa Big Bullets and Silver clash and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rally to inoculate more people.