HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe received 2 million COVID-19 vaccines from China’s Sinovac on Thursday, its single largest shipment that it hopes will boost a vaccination campaign that had been slowed by shortages while infections and deaths rise.
The southern African nation imposed a dusk to dawn curfew and curbed the movement of people on June 29 in a bid to contain infections, which have since increased by 24% to 60,227.
Zimbabwe has only registered vaccines from China, India and Russia and not from Western countries. The three countries have made donations to Zimbabwe.
Thursday’s delivery took Zimbabwe’s total number of vaccines from purchases and donations to 4.2 million, after another consignment of 500,000 doses arrived from China last week.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said Zimbabwe had so far spent $40 million on vaccines.
John Mangwiro, deputy minister of health, said the vaccines that arrived last week had already been used.
He said by the end of July, Zimbabwe would have received another 3.5 million doses. Zimbabwe plans to purchase 1.5 million vaccines monthly from August.
“The arrival of this 2 million (doses) will see the consumption and the rate of vaccination going into top gear,” Mangwiro said at the country’s main airport while receiving the vaccines.
More than 800,000 people have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, still far off from the government’s target of 10 million people by December.
Zimbabweans were initially reluctant to be vaccinated but as cases surged in the past two weeks, more people sought vaccines at centres in the country’s two largest cities but they had run out.
As of Thursday, 542 people were hospitalised, more than double the figure two weeks ago.