Zimbabwe has started exploring the idea of vaccinating children against Covid-19 following satisfactory progress in the ongoing inoculation exercise for the adult population.
Responding to questions posed by German diplomats during a briefing after the European country donated 924 000 facemasks, Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro confirmed the ongoing studies aimed at protecting the younger population against the deadly pandemic.
Zimbabwe is targeting to reach a herd immunity of at least 60 percent or 10 million people which will require 20 million shots.
So far, around 18 million doses have been secured and the bulk of this consignment will be delivered in the next few months.
Government paid for 12 million vaccines and about five million are expected to come from the African Union’s vaccine facility after paying US$7,5 million.
A further one million doses are expected from the worldwide Covax facility.
In response to the German Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Udo Volz, Dr Mangwiro said: “I heard you talking about the vaccination of children. In Zimbabwe we are also going through literature and studies that have been done all over the world.
“Our experts together with the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe are involved to ensure that we know when we are going to vaccinate the young age group.”
He added: “As a country, we also want to make sure our children remain safe so we are still going through these studies.
“Like you are also doing in Germany, we are doing the same thing so that as scientists, we understand what we give to the population.”
Government has postponed the opening of schools, a move anchored at protecting pupils from contracting the virus. Other social gatherings identified as potential super spreaders have also been banned.
Meanwhile, India’s Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya reportedly told a BJP Parliamentary Party meeting yesterday that they would likely start vaccinating children against Covid-19 by next month.
Zimbabwe and India enjoy very strong bilateral relations and if the latter makes a breakthrough in the production of the vaccines, there might be local benefit.
So far Zimbabwe has benefited from the Indian Covaxin Covid-19 vaccines to the tune of 75 000 doses donated by the government of India.
From the information last updated on July 14, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said they are still doing investigations on vaccinating children while also allowing the use of the Pfizer/BionTech vaccines to those above 12.
“WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) has concluded that the Pfizer/BionTech vaccine is suitable for use by people aged 12 years and above.
“Children aged between 12 and 15 who are at high risk may be offered this vaccine alongside other priority groups for vaccination.
“Vaccine trials for children are ongoing and WHO will update its recommendations when the evidence or epidemiological situation warrants a change in policy,” reads part of the information availed by WHO.
On general vaccines, WHO said the Covid-19 vaccines were safe for most people 18 years and older, including those with pre-existing conditions of any kind, including auto-immune disorders.
“These conditions include hypertension, diabetes, asthma, pulmonary, liver and kidney disease, as well as chronic infections that are stable and controlled.”