Rumbidzayi Zinyuke and Mukudzei Chingwere
Government is set to utilise the US$70 million left in its coffers from the US$100 million set aside by Treasury for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines as the fight against the pandemic intensifies in the wake of a third wave of infections.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said the available funds would go a long way in achieving the country’s target of inoculating at least 10 million people against the virus to attain herd immunity.
Zimbabwe’s vaccination drive has been highly commended by the international community, including the World Health Organisation (WHO).
High ranking politicians in Australia and South Africa, known to be rabid critics of the Zimbabwean Government, have been forced to eat humble pie and admit that the Second Republic has excelled in handling the pandemic.
Prof Ncube said the country was still in range of a target to take receipt of at least a million doses a month.
“We have about $70 million that is still available in our coffers so we are still in that situation where we are able to procure more vaccines going forward,” said Prof Ncube in an interview with The Herald.
“The $100 million we set aside will go a long way in meeting the demand for vaccinating our population.”
Zimbabwe will take delivery of 500 000 doses from Sinopharm today and another two million from Sinovac next week.
The two vaccines were given emergency use authorisation by WHO.
“We had set a target of procuring a million vaccines a month, in April, May and June, we are on that target.
“By midday tomorrow (today), we should have received half a million doses from Sinopharm. By the middle of next week, we will receive another two million doses from Sinovac.
Prof Ncube said Government had also bought about a million syringes that would be used in the vaccination process adding that beyond the targets for April, May and June, additional vaccines would be procured.
Zimbabwe has so far procured 1,2 million Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines from China.
The Government has also received donations of 400 000 Sinopharm vaccines from the Chinese government and an additional 35 000 from the government of India while the Zimbabwe Defence Forces has received a donation of 100 000 Sinopharm doses from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
Russian diamond producer Alrosa, which has operations in Zimbabwe, recently delivered a consignment of 25 000 doses of the Russian manufactured vaccine — Sputnik V — with additional doses of an equal amount set to be delivered soon.
The private sector has also chipped in to complement Government efforts to procure more vaccines that are being administered at various centres.
The arrival of the 2,5 million doses will drive up the vaccination exercise which has so far covered 725 582 first dose recipients 467 733 second jabs.
Prof Ncube said Zimbabwe had also signed up to receive vaccines from the African Union Covax facility as well as procuring more vaccines from China and India.
“We have a plan, a roadmap. I think we are on course to ensure that in the fullness of time, we achieve that 60 percent herd immunity that we are looking for,” he said.
Government was expected to use the national airline, Air Zimbabwe, for the shipment of the vaccines.
The arrival of the vaccines will go a long way in meeting the increased demand for jabs at a time the country has been experiencing a spike in cases.
As at June 24, the number of active Covid-19 cases had gone up to 5 073 with 257 of these cases needing hospitalisation.
This has increased pressure on hospitals to designate space for Covid-19 patients.
In a circular to its staff yesterday, Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals said they would open up more space to accommodate the rising Covid-19 admissions.
“We have had a sharp increase in the number of Covid-19 positive patients being admitted in our Covid-19 unit. We need to reclaim back the Covid zone to admit the increasing number of patients,” said the hospital’s acting clinical director Dr Tsitsi Magure.
According to the circular, the hospital will discharge as many patients as possible in preparation for merging of wards while the out patients department clinics would remain open for review of chronic patients.
The hospital is also expected to only admit emergency cases into the wards although other time sensitive areas like radio-oncology and dialysis unit will continue to offer services under very strict control measures.