ALL the Covid-19 vaccines being administered in Zimbabwe under the mass inoculation programme are effective against the highly virulent Delta variant, experts have concluded.
In Zimbabwe, the Delta variant, which was first discovered in India, is responsible for over 79 percent of all coronavirus cases.
Studies show that the Delta strain spreads much faster and potentially triggers more severe illness in the unvaccinated compared with all other known variants.
A new study by the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that the Delta variant is as infectious as chicken pox and more transmissible than Ebola.
Zimbabwe is administering a basket of four vaccines — Sinopharm, Sinovac, Sputnik V and Covaxin — which were granted Emergency Use Authorisation by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) following rigorous examination.
Last week, MCAZ authorised the emergency use of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, taking to five the number of vaccines that have been cleared for use in the country.
As Zimbabwe grapples with a deadly third wave of the pandemic, experts say those who have been administered any of the four vaccines currently in use in the country were unlikely to develop severe illnesses.
Chief co-ordinator of the National Response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr Agnes Mahomva, said the four vaccines were effective against the Delta variant.
“All the vaccines we have are doing exactly what we want them to do,” Dr Mahomva said.
“That is to reduce hospitalisation, death and transmission of Covid-19 and we are happy that the vaccines we have are doing that.”
A member of the Government’s Covid-19 Expert Advisory Committee, Dr Lincoln Chambari, said all the vaccines have been tested and have shown to be effective against all variants.
“The vaccines are effective against the Delta variant,” said Dr Chambari.
“Researches about the vaccines that have been done in other countries show us that they are very effective.
“In fact, vaccines protect against all variants, not only the Delta variant.”
Almost 90 percent of all the people who succumbed to the coronavirus in the past few weeks were unvaccinated.
They account for a similar proportion of hospital admissions, according to a recent Government report.
“Covid-19 Third Wave Mortality: Community Deaths by Vaccination Status as of 22 July 2021 . . . 88,9 percent were not vaccinated, 3,4 percent had received the first dose and 4,8 percent were fully vaccinated, while 2,9 percent were unknown,” reads part of the report, which was compiled by Dr Mahomva.
Vaccination of children on the cards
According to the report, the Delta variant was affecting more children compared to the previous strains.
Now Government has commissioned a study to look into the safety of administering vaccines to children.
MCAZ is currently studying the suitability of administering children aged between 3 and 17 years with the CoronaVac (Sinovac) Covid-19 vaccine.
MCAZ spokesperson Mr Shingai Gwatidzo said data was still being reviewed.
“This data on efficacy and safety is reviewed to determine whether there is a positive benefit risk balance before issuance of Emergency Use Authorisation of the vaccine,” said Mr Gwatidzo.
“With regards to the Covid-19 vaccines in children, the authority is currently reviewing data from studies including 3-17 year olds.
“The authority is also in consultations with some senior paediatricians who have vast experience in immunisation of children to determine the safety of Covid-19 vaccines in children.
“MCAZ is currently reviewing safety and efficacy data of the CoronaVac (Sinovac) vaccine in children.
“The data is currently under review. A decision will be made once all the necessary considerations and consultations have been concluded.”
Several schools recorded Covid-19 cases among pupils earlier this year after schools opened for the first term.
Last year, there were localised outbreaks at John Tallach High School in Matabeleland North, Matopo High School in Matabeleland South and Chinhoyi High School in Mashonaland West.
Zimbabwe plans to vaccinate 60 percent of its population in order to attain national herd immunity by year end.
As of Friday, 1 623 874 people had been administered the first doses of the vaccine, while 751 487 people had been fully vaccinated.