GABORONE, July 16 (Reuters) – About 15,000 people in Botswana will not be able to get their second dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine in time and will be vaccinated with either Pfizer (PFE.N) or Moderna (MRNA.O), the health ministry said on Friday.
Botswana, which is purchasing the vaccines from AstraZeneca (AZN.L) under the World Health Organisation-backed COVAX scheme, had signed up for 940,800 doses of the two-shot vaccine.
It has so far received only 62,400 AstraZeneca and 19,890 Pfizer doses under the scheme, according to official government numbers.
The COVAX scheme had committed to deliver 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine to 180 countries in the continent by the end of 2021, but has so far delivered only 118 million.
“The shortfall in the AstraZeneca vaccine is about 15,000 doses, resulting in people of the same number likely to get their second doses beyond the initially anticipated 12 weeks,” the Ministry of Health and Wellness said in a statement.
AstraZeneca’s shot is the cheapest and most readily available vaccine launched so far. Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, it does not need to be kept at extremely cold temperatures that make transport and storage in rural Africa highly problematic.
“A decision has been taken that all those affected by these developments be offered Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, as second doses, if any of the two become available earlier than the expected AstraZeneca vaccine,” the statement said.
Botswana has been administering the Chinese Sinovac vaccine as well as the Pfizer and AstraZeneca shots.
According to official figures, 173,512 of Botswana’s 1.6 million adults have received one dose, and 111,164 are fully vaccinated.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi said on Tuesday that Botswana was expecting to receive 50,000 Moderna vaccines in the coming weeks and at least 500,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) vaccine, which requires only one dose, by December 2021.
Reporting by Brian Benza; Editing by Promit Mukherjee and Kevin Liffey