Zimbabwe has surged ahead of all mainland SADC countries in terms of procurement and administration of Covid-19 vaccines with the top-rated national vaccination programme in the region.
Zimbabwe is targeting to reach 10 million people, with the vaccines to attain herd immunity.
By Tuesday evening, 600 579 people had received their first dose of the vaccines with 231 375 people having had the second jab, a total of 831 954 doses.
The country launched the vaccination programme in February this year and was among the first African countries to do this.
According to statistics from the Addis Ababa-based Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Zimbabwe has procured vaccines for almost 900 000 people, more than 1,7 million doses. This is ahead of any other country in Southern Africa.
The total number of people vaccinated accounts for 3 percent of the population, also significantly more than other nations.
In comparison, South Africa has obtained 825 000 doses and has managed to administer 478 733 doses to cover 1,39 percent of its population.
Mozambique was supplied with 684 000 doses and of those, 355 995 have been administered. This translates to 1,39 percent of that country’s population that has received the vaccine.
Angola procured 624 000 doses, Malawi 462 000 doses, Democratic Republic of Congo 451 000 doses, and Madagascar 250 000 doses.
President Mnangagwa, who has received his two jabs already, has said the vaccination programme not only boosts the safety of Zimbabweans but will help open safe tourism and allow fast economic growth to resume.
“Vaccines are indeed a critical tool in the battle against Covid-19, and getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to protect oneself, others and our nation as a whole from the deadly pandemic.
“We continue to learn lessons from this unprecedented global pandemic. Every Zimbabwean is called upon to quickly adapt to the new normal and new realities, in order to ensure that we are able to achieve the milestones set out in the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS-1) as well as Vision 2030,” he said in April.
Besides the 1,2 million Sinovac vaccines that have been purchased by Government, Zimbabwe has received donations of 500 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from the Chinese government, another 100 000 doses of Sinopharm from the Chinese military as a gift for vaccinating all in the Defence Forces, and another 35 000 Covaxin doses from India.
The country’s efforts to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic have been commended by the World health Organisation (WHO) as well as other international organisations.
Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Guo Saochun this week said the country had done well in its response to the pandemic.
“This is because both China and Zimbabwe understand the importance of mutual support in challenging times. Since the onset of the pandemic, Zimbabwe has been fighting as one.
“The military worked together with other frontline workers to implement crucial health guidelines. This explains why a country under illegal foreign sanctions is protecting its people more effectively than many better resourced nations,” said Ambassador Guo.
So far, the tourist resort town of Victoria Falls has already attained herd immunity following an intensive vaccination campaign that was aimed at vaccinating 25 000 adult residents. This achievement was an important step in helping the hard-hit tourism industry to start recovering.
Other border towns are also carrying out the programme with the numbers of people being vaccinated continuing to increase.
Government has, however, reiterated that its focus is not to beat other countries at procuring vaccines but to reach herd immunity for Zimbabwe as quickly as possible.
Ministry of Health and Child Care public relations officer Mr Donald Mujiri said: “The Government of Zimbabwe has a target to vaccinate 60 percent of its population which will provide herd immunity.”