FINANCE Minister Mthuli Ncube says the government is determined to achieve herd immunity by December this year, a development that may see the country lifting its tight Covid-19 restrictions.
The restrictions have been in place since April 2020 when the country imposed a national lockdown as it responded to the effects of the global pandemic.
However, Ncube is confident the government will achieve herd immunity and lift some of the restrictions that have affected business operations and other engagements for over year.
He was addressing journalists Thursday at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare while receiving two million Sinovac vaccines procured from China.
‘Herd immunity’ refers to the indirect protection from an infectious disease after a certain number of people in each area become immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) encourages ‘herd immunity’ that is attained through vaccination.
Zimbabwe is expecting to inoculate at least 10 million of its citizens before December, a target Ncube said is confident is attainable.
“By December we will get close to herd immunity and that is good going,” Ncube said.
“So, if our target is a minimum of 100 000 vaccinations a day, you can make your numbers from there. We will make a lot of progress by December this year and we are determined to get there.”
However, Zimbabwe, which started its inoculation exercise five months ago, is yet to fully vaccinate one million citizens.
As of 8 July 2021, 819 058 people had received the first dose of the vaccine while 579 699 had been fully vaccinated.
Deputy Health Minister John Mangwiro, who was part of the government delegation receiving the vaccines at the airport, said the government was confident the herd immunity would be achieved before the end of the year.
“At this rate of almost 120 000 to 150 000 a day, we are going to do it soon,” Mangwiro said.
Zimbabwe’s vaccine uptake has increased compared to the first days amid fears of the third wave of the deadly Covid-19 virus.
Meanwhile, Ncube said Zimbabwe would next Thursday take another 1.5 million doses of the Sinovac vaccines. – NewZim