Senior Health Reporter
Zimbabwe will start receiving the second batch of the Covid-19 vaccines next week as the country prepares to embark on the second phase of the national vaccination exercise.
The country received the first batch of 200 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine on February 15 and launched the national vaccination exercise three days later.
So far, more than 35 000 frontline workers have been inoculated against the disease and Cabinet has resolved that the programme can move on to the second phase of the exercise.
Zimbabwe is expecting to also receive the second donation of 200 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China, a donation of 75 000 doses of the inactivated Covaxin from India, and another donation of 20 000 doses of Sputnik-V vaccine from Russia.
Speaking during a virtual handover ceremony of reproductive health equipment to the Government yesterday, Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Guo Shaochun said his country was impressed with the progress made on the first phase so far and would continue supporting the country’s efforts.
“There are more opportunities for vaccine collaboration between China and Zimbabwe despite the enormous requirement of Covid-19 vaccines across the world.
“The next batch of 200 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine donated by China is coming very soon, we expect it to arrive by mid-month (March). Zimbabwe Government will also bring part of its procurement from China as well,” he said.
Ambassador Guo said the numbers of people who have been vaccinated showed that Zimbabweans were responding well to the exercise and the country could achieve success in its vaccination programme with more support from China and other development partners.
“I would like to reiterate that all Chinese vaccines, no matter if they are Sinopharm or Sinovac are very safe. So far there are nearly 60 million people who have received the vaccination using the Chinese vaccines. Since the development of the Chinese vaccines a lot has been done and we have full confidence in these vaccines, and there will be more successful vaccine cooperation between the two countries,” he said.
Finance and Economic Development permanent secretary Mr George Guvamatanga confirmed that Treasury had procured another batch of vaccines from China, India and Russia that would start coming into the country next week.
Treasury set aside US$100 million for the procurement of the vaccines that is expected to cater for 10 million people.
“We have secured adequate vaccines through various programmes and through our relationships with our partners. The procurement will be sufficient to meet our target of vaccinating 50 percent of the population. However, due to the procedures in bringing in the vaccines, the delivery timelines will differ so the next batch will be delivered next week. After that, we will start taking delivery of more vaccines on a weekly or bi-weekly basis,” he said
He said once the vaccines start coming in, the vaccination exercise would be ramped up and the Government was now recruiting more health personnel to conduct the exercise.
“We now have confirmed orders of both single and double dose vaccines and the big chunk of it will come in next week. The rest of the vaccines will be coming in regularly after that,” said Mr Guvamatanga.
He said the private sector had also come on board in the procurement of the vaccines which would now cover more people.
This week, Cabinet resolved that the vaccination exercise could move to the second phase as the number of people who have been vaccinated continued to rise.
Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro said the second phase would include people with serious medical conditions and those over 60 after which the education sector workers and others with medium risk would come in.
However, following the reopening of industry, he said, the Government was deliberating how the phased vaccination exercise could be tweaked.
“We are discussing if we can include teachers in the next phase of vaccinations but as you know, the whole country has opened up and everyone will need the vaccine. Our concern is to make sure that everyone is safe,” he said.