HARARE – Zimbabwe on Sunday received one million SINOVAC vaccines it bought from China as the African country battles to meet the demand for the COVID-19 jabs. Zimbabweans want to get vaccinated to beat a third wave facing the country.
After the arrival of the doses from China on Sunday, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube told reporters that Zimbabwe had paid $92 million for 12 million jabs from China and from the COVAX – the United Nations’ vaccine-sharing initiative.
“So, our vaccination program and vaccine acquisition program is going very well. For the first dose, we are already reaching about 50,000 vaccinations per day, which is good going indeed. So, all is going well. And we feel that we are well on our way of achieving that target of herd immunity which we need in order to open our economy safely so that the recovery is sustained and we can move from strength to strength with our objectives,” said Ncube.
In a virtual press conference this week Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa, said the continent was going through a third wave of COVID-19 infections and should urgently ramp up COVID-19 vaccination program.
“Africa continues to lag behind, sadly. Yet Africa’s supply crunch is starting to ease. The first delivery of doses donated by the USA through the COVAX Facility are arriving in Africa and altogether nearly 60 million doses are expected in the coming weeks through COVAX from Team Europe, UK, purchased doses and other partners. African countries must go all out and speed up their vaccine rollouts by five to six times if they are to get all these doses into arms and fully vaccinate the most vulnerable 10% of their people by the end of September,” said Moeti.
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Slightly more than 1,400,000 Zimbabweans out of a population of 14 million have received their first shot, and nearly 680,000 have received their second inoculation since the program started in February.
Norman Murwizi is one of the Zimbabweans who has yet to get a vaccine due to shortages.
“The chances of me getting vaccinated would have increased due to increase supply of vaccines. My guess or wish will be – the service rate will actually have improved so that the number (of people to vaccinated) will plummet and the chances of people getting vaccinated does increase. So, the expectation increases of me getting a vaccine with no hassle at all. Or with minimum farce,” said Murwizi.
Zimbabwe had turned down Johnson & Johnson vaccines which the African Union sourced for its members with financing from the African Development Bank but changed its mind.
Zimbabwe has 97,277 confirmed coronavirus infections and 3,050 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the global outbreak. On Sunday, Dr. John Mangwiro, Zimbabwe’s junior health minister, said with the arrival of a million jabs, the vaccination program would intensify.