Munyaradzi Msiiwa, Sunday News Reporter
PEOPLE vaccinated against Covid-19 are unlikely to die from the disease, a major revelation likely to spur Zimbabwe’s vaccination programme, already counted among the best on the African continent.
Medical experts said there were a number of misconceptions surrounding vaccines but one clarity was that people vaccinated against Coivid-19 are unlikely to die from the disease and their chances of getting the virus are also reduced. World Health Organisation (WHO) Zimbabwe representative Dr Alex Gasasira said vaccination protects against severe disease and lessens the burden on the health system.
“There are three advantages of getting vaccinated. The first one is that it reduces chances of getting infected as well as severe disease. What has been found is that vaccines reduce risk of severe disease and death. The second advantage is that it reduces pressure on the health system in that a few people will require hospitalisation. If the health system is overwhelmed, the ability of the system is compromised. The third advantage is that these vaccines reduce transmission rate,” he said.
Zimbabwe Medical Association (Zima) national president Dr Francis Chiwora clarified to Sunday News that the “much talked about efficacy rate” was not a measure of the effectiveness of the vaccines in preventing death, but in contracting the disease. He said the efficacy rate only determines the percentage of people who are likely going to contract the disease or not. Dr Chiwora said for example, if a vaccine is said to have 85 percent efficacy rate, it means that for every 100 people inoculated, only 15 people are likely going to contract the disease. However, even if the 15 contract the disease, they will not experience severe symptoms from the disease and are unlikely to die.
“So with the Covid-19 vaccines, once you are inoculated, it does not mean that you won’t catch the virus but once vaccinated, a person cannot experience severe effects and symptoms that may require hospitalisation. This means there are minimal chances of death among the vaccinated population,” he said.
Meanwhile, Embakwe High School in Mangwe, Matabelelend South has been quarantined after a Covid-19 outbreak at the Catholic run institution which saw 91 people returning a positive result while other several contacts were being closely monitored.
Matabeleland South provincial medical director Dr Rudo Chikodzo told Sunday News yesterday that the learning facility has been quarantined while more tests of suspected contacts are being done. Dr Chikodzo said the entire school including day scholars has been quarantined and no one was allowed to leave or enter the school.
This becomes the second school in Matabeleland South that has been quarantined after two other Catholic run schools, Sacred Heart Primary and Sacred Girls High were hit by the pandemic which saw 135 pupils returning a positive result to Covid-19 tests. Dr Chikodzo said all the students, teaching and non-teaching staff were not allowed to leave the school or to interact with people from outside until the disease is contained.
“I can confirm that we have recorded 91 cases so far of students who returned a positive result to Covid-19 tests at Embakwe High School in Matabeleland South. The entire school is now under lockdown. What it means is that all the students, teaching and non-teaching staff are not allowed to leave the school to interact with people from outside until the disease is contained. Those that have tested positive are being isolated while contacts have also been out in a separate facility. Day scholars at the school are not allowed to go home,” she said.
Dr Chikodzo said the province had recorded three more cases of Covid-19 from Esigodini. She said the situation at Sacred Heart Schools was now under control.
“The situation at Sacred Heart Schools is now under control. We are hoping that soon the affected people will start recovering. We recorded three new Covid-19 cases from Esigodini but we are not certain if these are linked to Sacred Heart,” she said.
Director for Communication and Advocacy in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mr Taungana Ndoro said the ministry had established that the continued interaction between students and surrounding communities was a major cause for the surging cases in schools.
In a statement yesterday, the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Hon Cain Mathema urged parents and guardians to inform school headmasters if their children exhibited any signs related to Covid-19.
“The fight against Covid-19 in schools, whether boarding or day, require full participation of parents and all families.
It is not a crime that we report signs of Covid-19. It is the duty of every family to work with school heads and health officials. No school alone can fight Covid-19,” he said.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care said on Friday, 112 new cases were reported across the country with one death. As of Friday, the country had recorded a total of 37534 cases since March last year. A total of 34 981 people had recovered and 1551 deaths were recorded.