“If you survive this third wave of Covid 19, then you are lucky. I am from the burial of my sister’s husband and I just got a call that my grandmother is dead. It is unbelievable, less than a week ago we were buryinging my friend Steve.
We will be wiped out by this virus,” says Charles Mambwe, a Lusaka resident.
Another resident Cecilia Ngoma has described the last month as “unbelievable” due to the number of Covid 19 related deaths.
“My condolences” has become a norm in this country, every time I open our organization whatsapp group there are at least three to five death announcements. And when we were burying one of our colleagues, the University Teaching Hospital morgue was crowded with people picking up corpses for burial,” she said.
From late May to date, Zambian social media and other information platforms have been filled with death and burial announcements.
According to scientists this is the third wave of Covid 19. In Zambia, May brings in the winter season and temperatures drop to at least 3 -10 F degrees. The country is now recording about 50 Covid 19 related deaths and over 2,000 new cases according to the Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI) daily updates.
Despite the increase in deaths there is still myths and misconceptions surrounding the virus in Zambia.These misconceptions caused many to shun the AstraZeneca made available to the public in MayAs the situation stands only 150, 000 got the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The second dose is currently underway and is only available for those that got the first dose. This means that 17 million are currently not vaccinated and are at the highest risk of infection.
The government has recently announced that it has permitted five Covid 19 vaccines to be administered on citizens after they were approved by the world health Organization (WHO)Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary in charge of technical services Kennedy Malama recently said the new vaccines are China’s Sinopharm, Johnson and Johnson,
AstraZeneca covishield, AZD 12225-Korea AstraZeneca and Pfizer Biotech.
Boston University school of public health Lawrence Mwananyanda says acquiring vaccines and making them available to the people is a major step in fighting Covid 19 in Zambia.
Dr. Mwananyanda and his medical counterparts have been studying the outbreak of the Covid 19 in Zambia and says a head-to-head vaccination can save a lot of lives.
“What is happening is that the third wave is more vicious than the second wave. Around end of May to beginning of June we started seeing an escalation of deaths and cases related to Covid 19. This is mainly because of the new variant circulating, the delta variant which is also circulating in India and it appears to be more transmissible,” he said.
He said the reason why it is more transmissible is because most Zambians have done little with regards prevention.
“We have stopped masking up, right now as I am talking to you, I’m driving near memorial park and I don’t see anybody in a mask. We have completely dropped the ball on preventative measures. We need to do what South Africa is doing. Their president yesterday announced very stringent measures,” he said.
Prof Mwananyanga however said stringent measures are inadequate.
“Yes AstraZeneca is available but not in enough quantities, so what the government should do is to step up on the preventative measures because the hospitals will be very overwhelmed soon and you know the process of recruiting medical staff takes very long,” he said.
He called on government to also provide masks and sanitizers especially in places where locals cannot afford them.
“Asking people to practice social distancing in Kalinga-linga or chawama is almost impossible. We also need a long term plan on how vaccines will get into the country. We need millions of doses, we don’t just need 200,000 doses, to get herd immunity,” he said.
He said the current vaccination numbers are too little to fight a pandemic such as Covid 19.
“As we speak only 150,000 have received the first dose of AstraZeneca and for the second dose my estimate is that not more than 30,000 have been fully vaccinated, that is a tiny drop in the ocean,” he said.
Prof Mwananyanga called on government to roll out the vaccines and recruit medical staff to undertake the task of rolling them out to the whole country.
“We expect to see escalating numbers of Covid 19 related cases for the next four to six weeks before things get better,” he said.