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Apostolic Nuncio to Malawi Calls for COVID-19 Vaccination as New Variant is Discovered

Archbishop Gianfranco Gallone, the Apostolic Nuncio in Zambia and Malawi. Credit: ECM

The representative of the Holy Father in Malawi has urged the people of God in the Southeastern African country to take vaccination against COVID-19 seriously following the emergence of a new variant of the coronavirus.

In his Saturday, November 27 speech during the installation of Archbishop George Desmond Tambala as the Local Ordinary of Malawi’s Lilongwe Archdiocese, Archbishop Gianfranco Gallone said that Omicron variant of COVID- 19 puts humanity “in a bad situation”.

“The new variant Omicron discovered in South Africa puts us in a bad situation. Vaccination is the only way to prevent this,” Archbishop Gallone said.

He added, “In fact the vaccine is developed to protect us from COVID-19, comfort us to fight and put an end to the pandemic hoping that they are available for all and if we collaborate with each other.”

The Italian-born Apostolic Nuncio reiterated Pope Francis’ message on vaccination and said that getting vaccinated is not only an act of love but it shows care for the neighbor.

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“Being vaccinated by the vaccine authorized by the competent authorities is an act of love, and contributing to ensure the majority of people are vaccinated is an act of love, love for oneself, one’s family and friends, for all people,” Archbishop Gallone said.

He further said that vaccination is a simple but profound way of promoting the common good and caring for each other, especially the most vulnerable.

Although there are no reported cases of Omicron variant in Malawi so far, COVID-19 infections in the country have been reported to be high amid calls for vaccination in the Southern African nation. 

The World Health Organization WHO reports that so far, Malawi has recorded 61,872 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,304 reported deaths that resulted from the coronavirus. The country has so far administered 1,390,496 vaccine doses, according to the WHO report.

Scientists in South Africa identified the latest variant of COVID-19 on November 23 “from someone who had got sick a couple of weeks earlier,” a November 26 report indicates.

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Based on the advice of WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE), the specialized agency of the United Nations that is responsible for international public health designated the variant B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern, and named it Omicron on November 26.

“Preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron, meaning that people who have previously had COVID-19 could become reinfected more easily with Omicron, as compared to other variants of concern, but information is limited. More information on this will become available in the coming days and weeks,” WHO has reported.

The Sunday, November 28 report indicates that “WHO is working with technical partners to understand the potential impact of this variant on our existing countermeasures, including vaccines.”

“Vaccines remain critical to reducing severe disease and death, including against the dominant circulating variant, Delta. Current vaccines remain effective against severe disease and death,” WHO further reports.