The largest single Covid-19 vaccine order, two million doses, arrives today to ensure that the national vaccination programme can be quickly accelerated as the country enforces a lockdown tightening to combat a third wave of increased infection.
So far 2,26 million doses have arrived, the last 500 000 doses just under two weeks ago so today’s order almost doubles the total vaccine imports to 4,26 million. That last shipment of 500 000 was enough to start the wider vaccination programme targeting border towns, hotspots, agricultural depots and major markets where the health authorities wanted priority vaccinations.
Yesterday, Zimbabwe saw its worst day so far in the third wave, with 2 264 new cases and 34 deaths counterbalanced by 706 recoveries Since the first case in March last year, Zimbabwe has recorded 60 227 cases, 42 330 recoveries and 1 973 deaths.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care yesterday confirmed that the 2 million doses would arrive at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport this afternoon.
The doses are expected to make inroads into the demand by millions of Zimbabweans who have been seeking the jab, particularly in border towns and areas that have been declared as hotspots.
Current hotspot areas include Kariba, Chidamoyo, Karoi, Chinhoyi, Guruve, Marondera, Murehwa, Chiredzi, Masvingo, Kwekwe, Harare and three areas of Bulawayo, Northern Suburbs, Nkulumane, Emakhandeni.
Last week, President Mnangagwa ordered the mass vaccination of people in these areas including tobacco, cotton and GMB depots as well as all market places across the country.
“The vaccination exercise is very good and it will ensure that we all get the jab. However, most centres have not had the first dose so only the people at market places have been getting priority but we are waiting for our turn as well. I hope that I will get the opportunity soon,” said Ms Anna Mavhura from Epworth.
Mr Answered Musindo from Mount Pleasant said more vaccines should be distributed to all clinics to ensure that all Zimbabweans can have easy access. He said people were no longer sceptical about the vaccines as shown by the long queues of people looking for the first dose.
Parirenyatwa Hospital is now dealing with the queues by using a booking system, so that people only have to visit three times, to make the booking and then for each of the two jabs.
By Tuesday evening, 807 633 people had received their first dose of the vaccine while 574 934 people had received both doses.
Besides the 500 000 received last week, Government has purchased 1,2 million Sinovac vaccines from China for the first major commercial order.
Another 400 000 Sinopharm doses were received as a gift from the Chinese Government and an additional 35 000 from the Government of India.
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces also received a donation of 100 000 Sinopharm doses from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) while another consignment of 25 000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V was received from Diamond producer Alrosa, last month.
The country needs 20 million vaccine doses to vaccinate 60 percent of the total population.
After today’s major catch-up order, a supply chain has been put in place to bring in around 1,5 million doses a month.