What you need to know:
- The 200,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine were donated by China.
- Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said Zimbabwe had a target to buy at least 1.3 million doses from China in the short term.
- The second phase will see the vaccination of people with chronic illnesses, the elderly and prison populations.
Zimbabwe on Monday took delivery of its first batch of Covid-19 vaccines from China with the vaccination of health workers set to begin immediately.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who doubles up as Health and Child Care minister, received the donation that was brought by a chartered Air Zimbabwe flight at the Robert Mugabe International Airport in the early hours of the morning.
The 200,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine were donated by China.
Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said Zimbabwe had a target to buy at least 1.3 million doses from China in the short term.
“Zimbabwe’s approach is to save lives first, then save lives livelihoods,” Professor Ncube said.
Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe, Guo Shaochun, said the southern African country was among the first countries in the world to receive the Sinopharm vaccine.
“You know we have a population of 1.4 billion in China and they also need to be vaccinated,” Ambassador Guo said.
“We are also facing enormous demand for the supply of vaccines in China, but Zimbabwe is our brother.
“So the assistance of vaccines and the supply of vaccines to Zimbabwe is not a problem.”
According to a schedule released by the Health and Child Care ministry, Zimbabwe will have three phases of inoculation with frontline workers and high-risk workers being given priority.
The second phase will see the vaccination of people with chronic illnesses, the elderly and prison populations as well as those confined to settlements such as refugee camps while the final phase “will target those at relatively low risk until everyone is covered.”
Zimbabwe says it is negotiating with different Covid-19 manufacturers, including Russia and India, as it seeks to immunise 60 per cent of the population or 10 million people to achieve herd immunity.
After a spike in Covid-19 cases and deaths at the beginning of the year amid fears the highly infectious South African variant of the coronavirus had started circulating in the country, Zimbabwe has in recent weeks witnessed a steady decline in new infections.
On Sunday, the country recorded only 68 new cases from highs of over 1,000 a day last month.
As of February 14, Zimbabwe had recorded 35 172 cases with 1,400 deaths and 30,601 recoveries.