BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
The government has admitted that it is struggling to meet demand for Covid-19 vaccines at a time the country is recording a surge in infections and deaths.
Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri, who chairs the Covid-19 taskforce, told journalists on Friday that despite the vaccine shortages, the government was confident that 60% of Zimbabweans would be vaccinated by October.
Zimbabwe recorded 1 442 new cases and 33 deaths on Friday, with an average of 1 063 cases per day in the past week.
“Government has procured two million more vaccines to ensure that there is consistency in the roll-out programme,” Muchinguri said.
“As it is right now, the demand is outweighing the supply.
“Scientific evidence obtained at higher education institutions shows that those who are not vaccinated are suffering more from the complications than those who received their jabs.
“As it is right now, actually demand is higher than supply, but there is assurance from the government that it will procure more doses to reach the herd immunity of 60% by October.
“We are also pleased by the compliance in the civil service.
“About 90% of the security officers have been vaccinated.”
The government says people living in border towns such as Beitbridge, Plumtree, Kazungula, Kariba, Chirundu, Nyamapanda and Mutare will be prioritised in its mass vaccination programme.
“We are also targeting airports,” said Maxwell Hove, chief director curative services in the Health and Child Care ministry.
“Most of our outbreaks are imported from other countries.
“This is to create herd immunity in border towns and protect against the spread of Covid-19 from other countries.
“People’s markets such as Mbare Musika, Renkini, Sakubva and others are priorities.”
Hove said an analysis of new infections and deaths showed that vaccination was helping in fighting against severity of Covid-19.
He said the majority of vaccinated people who were testing positive for the coronavirus had no symptoms or had mild sickness.
Hove confirmed that there were some vaccinated, people who were succumbing to the disease, but most of them had other pre-existing conditions such as heart failure, hypertension, diabetes and chronic renal failure.
“Those who are not vaccinated are also experiencing severe disease. That is why medical scientists are encouraging people to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their loved ones,” he said.
“Most of those who are vaccinated and succumbing to the virus have other co-morbidities.”
Agnes Mahomva, chief co-ordinator of the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic, said complacency was the major driver of the third wave.
“Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a surge in cases and deaths for the past two weeks,” Mahomva said.
“This has been mainly a result of complacency,” she said in a virtual address to citizens.
“As of Wednesday June 30, we saw our seven-day rolling average of new cases going up to over 900 compared to a week ago when we had 13 per day and this is really of concern.
“We need to make sure that we are compliant with all the recommended measures if we are serious and we want this epidemic to end soon.
“We must social-distance, wash our hands with soap and water, and we must get vaccinated.
“Vaccination prevents you from getting the disease.
“If you get it, it prevents you from getting severely ill, getting hospitalised and dying from the disease.
“So it is critical that we follow all the preventative measures.”