Zimbabwean Vice President volunteers to lead Covid vaccination

Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care Constantino Chiwenga

HARARE – Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care Constantino Chiwenga has volunteered to become the first person to be vaccinated against Covid-19 at a ceremony that is set signal the commencement of the country’s vaccination programme.

Zimbabwe’s is set to kickstart its vaccination programme today after receiving a donation of 200 000 shots of the Sinopharm vaccine from The People’s Republic of China.

Against a background of safety persimism from some quotas which have pessisted even after World Health Organization (WHO) assurances, VP Chiwenga has thus volunteered to become the first recipient of the vaccine to assure health care workers who are set to benefit from the first phase of the vaccination programme.

Ministry of Health and Child Care Public Relations Officer Mr Donald Mujiri confirmed that the VP will be the first recipient of the vaccine.

Healthcare workers received the first shots as Zimbabwe kicked off its COVID-19 vaccination drive on Thursday.

The 200,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine donated by China are being used for the first phase of the campaign, which is mainly targeting people over 60, frontline government workers, and vulnerable groups.

The first phase is also being viewed as a test run to determine whether the Sinopharm jab is effective against the coronavirus variant that has spread to Zimbabwe since first being detected in South Africa.

According to the Health Ministry’s vaccination plan, Zimbabwe’s eventual aim is to inoculate 10 million of its approximately 15 million people.

“A total of 22% of the population will be vaccinated during the first phase. In the second phase, 18.4% people will be targeted, while 18.4% will be vaccinated in the third phase, thus achieving the target of vaccinating nearly 60% of the entire population,” Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told a Tuesday news conference.

She also confirmed that there is “now a 61% dominance of the new South African variant” in the country.

Zimbabwe has purchased some 800,000 more vaccine doses that are due to arrive next month.

As of Thursday, Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 case tally stands at over 35,000, including at least 1,400 deaths and more than 31,000 recoveries.