Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
MORE than 100 000 residents have received their Covid-19 jabs in Bulawayo with health authorities saying they are confident the city will soon achieve herd immunity.
This comes amid revelations that almost 90 percent of Covid-19 fatalities are of people who were not vaccinated against the pandemic. According to a research obtained by health authorities, not only do unvaccinated Covid-19 patients make up more than 90 percent of Covid-19 hospital admissions, but also 88,9 percent of people who died from the pandemic in the past few weeks were not vaccinated.
This comes as Government is continuing to encourage the nation to get vaccinated, with the country set to take delivery of another one million vaccines and three million syringes today, to give further impetus to the vaccination programme.
According to the report, dubbed Covid-19 Admissions and Community Deaths by Vaccination Status, Harare Zimbabwe, carried out by the Chief Coordinator National Covid-19 Response in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr Agnes Mahomva, a greater percentage of the deaths are among the unvaccinated. The report was based on an analysis of mortuary data from 207 deaths in the capital.
“Covid-19 Third Wave Mortality: Community Deaths by Vaccination Status as of 22 July 2021…88, 9 percent were not vaccinated, 3, 4 percent had received the first dose and 4, 8 percent were fully vaccinated, while 2.9 percent were unknown,” the update said.
The research further shows that recent mortality rates from the current third wave are higher than that of the first and second waves. Speaking to our Harare Bureau, Dr Chido Dziva-Chikwari, an epidemiologist said the country should strive to increase vaccination figures.
“The herd immunity ideal is really far off at the moment. We should also take lessons from countries that have vaccinated more of their population. The publishing of more nuanced data was lauded, as it could help demystify some aspects of the vaccine rollout. Where possible publish the data, transparency is something that people who are hesitant would appreciate. If the data is transparent people who have questions can see the numbers for themselves, and make decisions based on evidence.”
Dr Dziva-Chikwari warned against making sweeping interpretations of the data at face value, saying even experts need time to make sense of the data.
“I can also see a scenario where the data can be misinterpreted, which is not a good thing. As an epidemiologist I can spend a whole lot of time trying to understand data, trying to see if confounders are things that might distort the picture we see, and they need further studies to be understood beyond the data.”
As of Thursday last week, the country had administered 1400 905 first doses and 671 155 second doses bringing the total to 2 071 769. The total doses administered so far are just over 10 percent of the planned 20 million doses needed to vaccinate a minimum of 10 million people to reach herd immunity.
Meanwhile, according to figures from the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) health services department, 109 483 people have received their first jabs while 63 366 have received their second dose in the city.
“Vaccination of all community members started on Monday 12 July 2021. There was a very good response from the public. Mobile and static teams are carrying out the vaccinations at all city clinics, Central hospitals, ZRP Ross Camp Hospital, Bulawayo Prison Clinic, CIMAS, VIVAT clinics and MASCA premises. There is a challenge of shortage of human resources at static sites as they have to continue with provision of essential services,” reads the report.
Commenting on the vaccination exercise in the city, Bulawayo acting provincial medical director, Dr Welcome Mlilo said they wanted to ensure that everyone in the city is vaccinated.
”I think we need to be a bit calmer and realistic with regards to achieving herd immunity. We are certainly pushing hard towards it, we will update you when we reach certain milestones in our push to herd immunity,” said Dr Mlilo.
Meanwhile, hospitals in Bulawayo continue to feel the brunt of the increase in Covid-19 cases in the city with United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) already admitting more than their bed capacity. According to the report, UBH is already admitting above its required bed capacity with 55 patients admitted against a bed capacity of 48.
At Thorngrove Hospital 20 patients have been admitted against a bed capacity of 28 while at Mater Dei 40 patients have been admitted in their Covid-19 ward against a bed capacity of 61. Elangeni Isolation Centre, with a bed capacity of 70, 20 patients are admitted there.
The only other designated Covid-19 isolation centre in the city is Ekusileni Hospital. However, despite authorities committing that the hospital will admit its first patients last week, this has once again been deferred.
Questioned on when the hospital will open, Dr Mlilo said they were working on minor touch ups to pave way for the reopening.
“Ekusileni Hosptal is still work in progress and we are very close to opening. Minor soft but crucial issues are remaining,” said Dr Mlilo.
According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, as of Friday the country had recorded 95 686 confirmed cases, including 62 986 recoveries and 2 961 deaths. A total of 2 265 new cases were recorded on Friday with 91 deaths.
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