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Ntsoaki Motaung

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The U.S. Applauds COVID-19 Vaccine Launch in Lesotho

The United States of America has sent its congratulatory remarks to Kingdom of Lesotho on the launch of the national Covid-19 vaccine campaign which was officially opened by His Majesty King Letsie III on Wednesday.

The Covid-19 vaccine which reached the country last week came as donation from COVAX Facility, which is co-led by Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The ceremony was attended by the United States Ambassador to Lesotho, Rebecca Gonzales. According to the US embassy Lesotho press release, the United States recently announced a commitment to provide an initial $2 billion that is approximately M31 billion out of a total planned $4 billion which is approximately M61 billion to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, making the United States the single largest contributor to the international response to COVID-19.

“The Kingdom of Lesotho received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility on March 3, 2021. The U.S. contribution will support the purchase and delivery of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for the world’s most vulnerable and at-risk populations in 92 low and middle-income countries. This support is critical to controlling the pandemic, slowing the emergence of new variants, and helping to restart the global economy,” the release read.

The US embassy statement indicated that the United States government has provided $5.25 million which approximately counts to M81 million to the COVID-19 response in Lesotho, focusing on COVID testing, clinical care, surveillance, and vaccine preparedness.

“The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) supports the Ministry of Health to train health workers in COVID-19 critical clinical care; supportive supervision of health facilities; and district-specific planning and rollout. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have provided critical technical assistance to strengthen infection control, surveillance, and laboratory activities across Lesotho. The U.S. Department of Defense has also coordinated donations of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and medical supplies to aid frontline health care workers as well as testing supplies to increase Lesotho’s testing capacity,” the release read.

Meanwhile, Gonzales thanked His Majesty King Letsie III for his leadership in the launch of the national vaccine campaign in Morija. She said she reaffirms the longstanding partnership between the United States and the Kingdom of Lesotho by noting, “over the last year, the United States government has moved swiftly to support the local response to control the spread of COVID-19. We will continue to support the vaccine rollout with trusted implementing partners and the Ministry of Health.”

“The U.S. government will provide additional funding to the COVAX Facility through 2022 and will work with other donors to make further pledges and commitments to meet the facility’s critical needs. The U.S. government is committed to working with partners and governments to support global COVID-19 vaccination efforts, with a focus on vaccinating vulnerable populations.

“The U.S. government has spent more than $400 million (approximately M6 billion) toward achieving HIV/AIDS epidemic control in Lesotho. This funding focuses on four areas: reducing HIV incidence; reducing HIV/AIDS-related morbidity and mortality by providing treatment and care to people living with HIV and orphans and vulnerable children; improving human resource capacity to deliver HIV services; and strengthening health management information systems, labs, organizational capacity, and supply chains,” she said.

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