Fatima Bulla Musakwa and Bruce Ndlovu
The Government is exercising due diligence to ensure that all Covid-19 vaccines procured or donated to the country go through the necessary scrutiny, a senior official has said.
Speaking during a virtual meeting hosted by the Zimbabwe Diaspora Health Alliance last Wednesday, Chief Coordinator of the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr Agnes Mahomva allayed fears that Government would receive vaccines without following quality control measures. Dr Mahomva said through the Pharmacovigilance and Clinical Trials Committee, the vaccines are rigorously verified before being cleared by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe.
“It doesn’t matter who is bringing it and how it is being brought in, these are processes that we have committed to really going through and make sure they work,” she said.
Speaking at the same meeting, California based Zimbabwean physician Dr David Chonzi said the effectiveness of a vaccine should not be judged by how long it took to be developed.
“Just because it took a ‘short time’ doesn’t mean we took some short cuts. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is never going to approve a vaccine that is not safe and is not going to work,” he said.
Outlining the processes of developing a vaccine, Dr Chonzi said it starts in the laboratory followed by animal and human studies. Dr Chonzi said the vaccines had been developed with speed after Government agencies, private companies and other stakeholders pulled their resources together.
Dr Tinashe Gede, a local physician and lecturer said China’s Sinopharm vaccine was becoming the most rolled out vaccine as it is easily accessible.
He said its development started with a well-designed process in the lab, before being published in a reputable science journal. The Sinopharm also underwent three phased clinical trials that were carried out in China, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan, Peru and Argentina.
“That three-phase trial included over 60 000 participants and there were no reported adverse events. China released a Press release to announce that they found an efficacy rate of 79 percent in preventing any infection.
“The UAE released their own country level analysis suggesting that the efficacy was probably up to 86 percent. As we speak, the Sinopharm vaccine has been rolled out to over 40 million participants globally with no adverse effects.”
Zimbabwe rolled out its vaccination programme last month after receiving a donation of 200 000 shots of the Sinopharm vaccine from China. As of Friday, 31 235 frontline workers had been vaccinated.