Senior Health Reporter
For more than a year, Zimbabwe, like the rest of the World, has been battling to control the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic.
After introducing several lockdowns, which sought to minimise movements and activities that could potentially spread the disease, the Government decided to embark on a massive vaccination drive that would see 60 percent of the population receiving the vaccine.
Over the last month, the country has received over 1,5 million doses of Covid 19 vaccines from China and India which have been distributed across the country for use in the vaccination roll out. Of that amount, 35 000 doses were part of a gift of 75 000 Covaxin vaccine from the Indian Government.
The Covaxin doses will complement the Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines from China and Sputnik V from Russia which were approved for use in the country.
Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro this week said vaccination was the only way scientifically proven by the WHO and other scientists including our own to prevent further spread of the Coronavirus.
“We have lost more than 1 500 Zimbabweans to the virus so with this vaccination, we are sure things will be much better,” he said.
However, Zimbabweans continue to have questions on how these vaccines work and which one would be a better choice for them, highlighting the need for more information on the vaccines to the people. Government has made it clear that these vaccines basically work in the same way as they are all attenuated viruses. Covaxin is manufactured by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and phase three trials have shown that the vaccine has an efficacy rate of 81 percent.
It is an inactivated vaccine which means that it is made of dead viral particles to expose the body’s immune system to the virus without risking a serious disease response. The use of dead viruses makes it safe to be injected in the body and this prepares the body to produce antibodies that will fight the live virus once it attacks. Covaxin, like the Sinopharm vaccine is given in two doses, administered four weeks apart.
According to experts, the vaccine has been shown to work on healthy people aged between 12 and 65 years with no life-threatening side-effects.
Indian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Vijay Khanduja this week said the vaccine has been proven to be safe as testified by its use in over 70 countries. So far, 60 million doses of the Covaxin have been used in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia.
“Millions have received the vaccine in India alone and that should put to rest any doubts and scepticism about the vaccine. The vaccine has proved to be 81 percent effective in the clinical trials we have done so far,” he said.
Of interest, the Covaxin has been proven to be effective against the mutant strains of the Corona Virus emerging across the globe.
Recent published studies have shown that Covaxin can effectively neutralise the UK variant.