Zimbabwe’s battle against Covid-19 got a boost yesterday after the country took delivery of the first consignment of 25 000 doses of the Russian manufactured vaccine — Sputnik V — donated by a diamond mining giant, the Alrosa Group.
The world’s largest diamond producer, Alrosa, which has operations in Zimbabwe, pledged to support the country’s fight against the pandemic through buying vaccines, and yesterday, it started honouring the promise.
Modalities are now in place for the shipment of the remaining 25 000 jabs.
Research conducted by the Gamaleya National Research Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) revealed that the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine showed a 97,6 percent efficacy.
Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr John Mangwiro, was at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport yesterday in the company of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Deputy Minister, Dr David Musabayana, and other senior Government officials to receive the vaccines.
Dr Mangwiro said the vaccines would be kept in accordance with manufacturer specifications under the recommended temperatures.
He added that the “V” on the name of the vaccines means victory was certain at beating the virus.
“This vaccine has been tested, it has been working in Russia. It is working in other countries. These 25 000 doses you have seen today (yesterday) are the first of the 50 000 vaccines that are coming from the same vaccine.
“So this means 25 000 people will benefit because this is a double jab vaccine as well,” said Dr Mangwiro.
“I can assure you Alrosa that this vaccine will be distributed as is required. Storage will be up to standard; it will be kept in temperatures that are required because we have the facilities.
“The temperatures that are required are already arranged and in place to ensure that this vaccine gets to people in a safe manner,” assured Dr Mangwiro.
Alrosa deputy chief executive and head of African operations, Mr Vladimir Marchenko, said the concerted response to the pandemic will give nations a chance of defeating the pandemic.
“This shipment is pure evidence of the desire of the Russian government, of Alrosa, to support the Government of Zimbabwe and the people of Zimbabwe in the battle with Covid-19 pandemic.
“With these mutual activities, I believe we will win this battle very soon,” he said.
Dr Musabayana said the donation was a demonstration of the success of President Mnangagwa’s re-engagement and engagement drive.
“I want to thank the President for his vision of opening up the economy, that ‘Zimbabwe is Open for Business’ and his philosophy that Zimbabwe is friends to all and an enemy to none, as well as reaffirming our friendship with our all-time friends,” said Dr Musabayana.
The two republics have excellent ties which date back to the liberation struggle.
On the economic front, Russian mining companies have already started investing Zimbabwe and two major companies, Great Dyke Investments and Alrosa, which have interests in platinum and diamonds, respectively.
The Alrosa Group, which accounts for almost a third of the world’s rough diamond production, has a 70 percent stake in Alrosa Zimbabwe with the remaining 30 percent being owned by Government through the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).
President Mnangagwa has said the mining sector, together with agriculture, will form the backbone on which Zimbabwe will build Vision 2030, which seeks to transform the country into an upper middle income economy.