Former finance minister and MDC legislator, Tendai Biti, has taken the government to task over the efficacy of the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine which the country received as a donation from China this week.
Zimbabwe received a consignment of 200 000 jabs from the state-owned Chinese manufacturer with 600 000 expected to arrive next month.
Speaking in Parliament Tuesday, Biti questioned the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Constantino Chiwenga, why the country had registered the vaccine whose efficacy was ‘questionable.’
“Why have you registered in Sinopharm?” asked Biti.
“The Sinopharm drug itself has not yet been peer-reviewed and has not been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). In China itself, Sinopharm is not the dominant drug, the dominant drug is actually Sinovac. So why are you accepting from China a drug that Chinese themselves are not using?”
Chiwenga however defended the government’s decision to accept the Sinopharm.
“The Sinopharm was approved by WHO and it was attenuated and that is why we chose it. My deputy is the one who went to get the delivery and we are also taking Sinovac because it was approved by WHO,” he said.
Coming to the rescue of his superior, Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, John Mangwiro said the efficacy of the Sinopharm is above 76 percent.
“The efficacy of the Sinopharm is 76 to 86%,” he said.
“If you go to Astrazaneca, at times it is 10%; it can range up to 92%. You go to Johnson and Johnson; you go to Chile or Argentina; they range from 51% to everything. What we do is to look at the average performance of each vaccine before we take it.”
He added: “We look at those performances very rigorously. We do not take a thing just because it is this. If a vaccine is performing below 50% through and through, the manufacturers will not bring it into the market. When we take a vaccine, we would have looked at the performance as well as safety, that is what we do.”