THE National Covid-19 Vaccination Programme will receive a major boost this week when the country takes delivery of a new batch of 500 000 vaccine doses procured by the Government from Chinese pharmaceutical giant, Sinopharm.
Increased demand for vaccines, since the onset of the winter season, has caused vaccine stock-outs at some immunisation centres, threatening to derail the programme, which was being touted as the most effective on mainland southern Africa.
The sporadic vaccine shortages have coincided with an upsurge in new Covid-19 cases countrywide, forcing authorities to reintroduce stricter national and localised lockdowns in districts with high infection rates.
Zimbabwe moved into a Level Four National Lockdown last week, which includes a reduction in working hours and a blanket ban on social and sporting gatherings among other restrictions.
Nearly half a dozen administrative districts including Kariba, Karoi, Kwekwe and Makonde have been placed under stringent localised lockdowns after reporting surges in new infections.
A significant proportion of the new batch of vaccines will immediately be deployed to these districts where infections are rising.
The incoming consignment is expected to inject impetus into the vaccination programme, and hasten the country’s attainment of national head immunity.
Deputy Minister for Health and Child Care, Dr John Mangwiro told The Sunday Mail that distribution priority will be given to centres where appetite for inoculation is high.
“Next week (this week) we are receiving another batch of vaccines. I cannot confirm the amount now, but we will soon make that public,” said Dr Mangwiro.
“We always use our statistics to guide the distribution process. We will be targeting the hotspots areas like Kariba, Kwekwe and Hurungwe which are currently on lockdown.
“The Government is also redistributing vaccines to cater for areas that have been left behind.
“We understand that there are some centres that have not used all the vaccines they received so we are redistributing those to areas that have shortages.”
Chief co-ordinator for the National Response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr Agnes Mahomva said: “We purchased these vaccines and we are expecting them anytime this month.”
Speaking recently during a post-Cabinet media briefing, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said:
“Regarding vaccine procurement, the public is informed that delivery of the 500 000 Sinopharm vaccine doses which were ordered from China is expected in June 2021.”
Treasury has set aside US$10 million to procure Covid-19 vaccines, with over 1,2 million Sinovac vaccines having already been delivered from China.
The Government has also received donations of 400 000 Sinopharm vaccines from the Chinese government and an additional 35 000 from the government of India.
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces has received a donation of 100 000 Sinopharm doses from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
The world’s largest diamond producer, Alrosa, which has operations in Zimbabwe, last week delivered a consignment of 25 000 doses of the Russian manufactured vaccine — Sputnik V — with additional doses of an equal amount set to be delivered soon.
As of Friday, 1 131 397 people had been administered at least a single dose of the Covid-19 vaccine countrywide.
This month, 2 374 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported, while 62 people have succumbed from the respiratory disease.
A survey conducted by respected think tank Afrobarometer, which was released last week, concluded that over 80 percent of Zimbabweans approved of Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The study found that an overwhelming majority of Zimbabweans (81 percent) support the enforcement of restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
In addition, over 70 percent of citizens agreed that the use of police and the military to enforce lockdowns was justified.
Reads the report: “Even though more than three-fourths (77 percent) of citizens say it was difficult to comply with lockdown/curfew restrictions, most Zimbabweans (81 percent) support the restrictions as necessary.
“The same majority (81 percent) agree with the Government’s decision to close the schools, although most (85 percent) say they should have reopened sooner.
“More than eight in 10 Zimbabweans approve of the Government’s performance in managing the pandemic (81 percent) and keeping the public informed (84 percent).
“Almost three-fourths (72 percent) of Zimbabweans say the Government is justified in using the police or military to enforce public health mandates during a health emergency.
A total of 41 335 cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in Zimbabwe, while 1656 people have died from the disease. – Sunday Mail