Vaccine acquisition gathers pace . . . as 1 million more jabs arrive Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube (right) and Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro unveil part of the one million Covid-19 Sinovac vaccines bought by Government from China that arrived at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare yesterday. — Picture: Believe Nyakudjara

Mukudzei Chingwere – Herald Reporter

Zimbabwe yesterday took delivery of one million Sinovac Covid-19 vaccines purchased from China, taking the total number of vaccines brought into the country so far to over five million.

With a target of vaccinating 10 million people to achieve herd immunity, Government yesterday confirmed the purchase of an additional 6,5 million vaccines, taking the total number of doses acquired to just over 12 million.

Zimbabwe has also joined the African Union (AU) vaccine facility after paying US$7,5 million.

The balance will be paid under a loan facility, which will see the country getting about five million shots, and will also get more than one million doses from the Covax facility.

That will take the total number of doses to over 18 million.

President Mnangagwa’s administration set aside US$100 million for the purchase of vaccines and US$93 million has so far been used to acquire around 18 million jabs.

Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube said funds for importation of vaccines were coming from the last year’s surplus.

Speaking at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport where he received the latest one million consignment of vaccines accompanied by Health and Child Care, Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro and other senior Government officials, Prof Ncube said: “We have received one million Sinovac vaccines. I am happy to say our programme of buying vaccines is going very well. We are also expecting another 1,5 million vaccines later this week. So everything is going very well.

“These one million vaccines we received today (yesterday) mean we have about 5,5 million vaccines that we have received so far. Going forward we have paid for another 6,5 million vaccines which would then take us to 12 million vaccines; they are all fully paid for.

“So for the 12 million vaccines including syringes, we have spent about US$93 million that we have already paid. In addition to that we paid another US$7,5 million for the acquisition of vaccines from the AU facility.

“We are still going to receive another 1,15 million vaccines from the Covax facility, the AU facility for which we had already paid for that is going to give us another five million.” 

Prof Ncube said all was going well and the feeling was that the country is on course to achieving the 60 percent target of herd immunity.

With one person getting two shots, the targeted 60 percent (about 10 million people) implies that Zimbabwe needs 20 million doses.

Prof Ncube said Zimbabwe needed to achieve herd immunity in order to reopen the economy safely for economic recovery to be sustained, and help achieve the objectives outlined under the National Development Strategy 1.

“Resources are not our problem at the moment. The issue is just availability of vaccines and then vaccination speed on the ground, but vaccination speed on the ground has also picked up.

“The resources we have used so far, the US$100 million we have set aside, is coming from the 2020 surplus. So you can see that we are making use of the surplus to meet the requirements for vaccine acquisition,” said Prof Ncube. 

Dr Mangwiro said the vaccines were going to be distributed across the country. 

“From the central vaccines store we send them to provinces, districts, then clinics,” said Dr Mangwiro.

“The vaccination is no longer being done at Government hospitals only, council clinics are also vaccinating, police stations have been asked to have active vaccination centres, and we also have outreach teams.

“We are also encouraging people to have community immunity, the country might have a herd immunity of 60 percent, but if your community is not vaccinated it becomes dangerous for that community. At work places people must be vaccinated,” said Dr Mangwiro.

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