Covid-19 Vaccines in Short Supply in Liberia as Confirmed Cases Increase on a Daily Basis
MONROVIA – Liberians trooping to various health facilities and the Ministry of Health for vaccination against the coronavirus and those scheduled for the second shot are leaving in disappointment – there are no vaccines, the country has run out.
This was also confirmed to FrontPageAfrica by the Director of Communications of the Incident Management System, Mr. Chester Smith, who said there are still vaccines in the country but in limited supply.
“We have vaccines in the country but on a very low scale. So, what we are doing is that the vaccines that were sent to the various counties for immunization are being brought back to Montserrado County which is the epicenter and has the highest number of confirmed cases. We are expecting vaccines in the country next Wednesday,” he said.
FrontPageAfrica further gathered that the Incident Management System over served the first consignment of vaccines which was supposed to serve both first and second doses. However, because of the rush for vaccination amid the rising number of new cases, more vaccines were administered, making it difficult for those who were scheduled for second dose to now complete their vaccination.
The lack of vaccines is happening at a time when the country is experiencing a surge in new infections and deaths amid the discovery of the Delta variant of the deadly virus.
Delta, formerly known as B.1.617.2, is believed to be the most transmissible variant yet, spreading more easily than both the original strain of the virus and the Alpha variant first identified in Britain. Public health officials there have said that Delta could be 50 percent more contagious than Alpha, though precise estimates of its infectiousness vary.
According to the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) updates, Liberia recorded 106 new cases and four new deaths. To date, the total number of confirmed cases is 1,458. Of the recent confirmed cases, there were 41 recoveries.
On June 26, NPHIL announced 101 new cases of covid-19, seven new deaths with no recoveries. The day before, 106 cases were recorded while two days earlier, 155 cases were booked.
Statistics seen by FrontPageAfrica reveal that of the 67 weeks of response (as of March 2020), this week accounts for the highest with 25 percent of deaths. Six hundred and eighty-nine (689) new cases were recorded between June 20-26.
As of June 26, 2021, the percentage changes for cases from April 2021 has increased by 119% and 1,382% for May and up to date in June. There were 47 cases in April 2021 that increased to 103 in May and has significantly increased to 1526 in June 2021.
From the statistics, comparing the current positivity peak with the increase of 28.5% in the third wave to the peaks in the previous two waves, the first two was 22.2% for week ending June 24, 2020 while the second wave was 11.5% for week ending November 14, 2020.
The data further also predicted that comparing the three waves, it will take up to 60-90 days to see appreciable progress bending the curve if the recommendations including the wearing of masks, hand washing, social distancing, vaccination, testing, case investigation, contact tracing and contact reporting are followed.
Liberia on the Red
Recently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) raised Liberia’s travel alert to level 4 indicating that the country is highly unsafe for inbound travelers. The CDC has admonished U.S. citizens not to travel to Liberia and if they should, they must be vaccinated before coming.
On its website, the CDC admonished U.S. citizens and other travelers to avoid making a trip to Liberia or get fully vaccinated before travel “because of the current situation in Liberia, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.”
Shortage Was In Sight
Over the past days, FrontPageAfrica observed huge number of people, both young and old trooping at the Ministry of Health in Congo Town to get the first shot of the vaccines. Although everyone was seen wearing a mask, the social distancing rule was being blatantly ignored. People could be seen in crammed endless queues as early as 5:pm, with some waiting for hours before getting the vaccines.
“I came here since this morning to get my vaccine, but I have been here for hours but I have not taken it. Hope by 12 O’clock, I will get it,” a lady only identified as Agatha told FrontPageAfria.
Aaron Mason, speaking to FPA, complained that the Ministry of Health was not handling the process in line with its own health protocols it has announced.
“This is just a mockery the health officials are making out of us. You can’t see police officers line up all in the streets enforcing the health protocols, and you come right here at the Health Ministry and see it is being violated. They should be the one to set the example, but this shows they are not in charge.”
When contacted, officials at the Ministry blamed the huge crowd that have been showing up in the wake of the third wave of the virus. They told FPA that measures have been put in place to reduce the large gathering of people at the Ministry.
“Before the vaccines arrived, there were massive public awareness throughout and during the vaccination process but some people stayed away. Also, the myth and misinformation made people to stay away. Now they are coming in huge numbers. That’s why the lines are long. But we are decentralizing the process. That’s why there are several queues at the Ministry,” said Felecia Gbesioh, the Director of Communications, Ministry of Health.