Govt to acquire additional Chinese vaccines under the COVAX facility

The government has said it will take advantage of the availability of Chinese Sinopharm and Sinovac Covid-19 vaccines on the COVAX scheme to boost local supplies at a time when the vaccination exercise is being intensified.

This comes after Zimbabwe in June rejected an allocation of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose Covid-19 vaccines procured by the African Union through the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) as part of the COVAX facility.

In rejecting the vaccines which were set to be delivered in August, the government said it was not ready to receive the shots due to challenges in the country’s cold chain infrastructure.

Authorities also said experts were still assessing the side effects of the Johnson and Johnson single-shot Covid-19 vaccine, following reports on blood clots in persons who took the vaccines in other countries.

At the time the government refused the Johnson & Johnson vaccines offer, the two Chinese vaccines – Sinopharm and Sinovac – were not yet part of the COVAX facility.

Zimbabwe has so far authorised the use of four Covid-19 vaccines: Russia’s Sputnik V, Covaxin from India and China’s Sinopharm, Sinovac vaccines that account for the bulk of shots given to Zimbabweans.

“Cabinet reports that Sinopharm and Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines are now available on the COVAX platform and the government will take advantage of the African Union Facility to boost local supplies of the vaccines,” Information Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, said during a post-cabinet briefing Tuesday.

She said out of the 2 million doses of vaccine that the Ministry of Health and Child Care received on 8th July 2021 every province received 50 000 first doses except for Harare and Bulawayo Metropolitan provinces which received 100 000 doses each.

“A total of 1.5 million vaccine doses will be distributed this coming week,” she said. 

“The nation is informed that vaccination is now open to everybody, with frontline personnel still being prioritized at vaccination centres. The nation is informed that as at 11th July, 2021, a total of 926 312 people had received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and 605 556 their second dose across the country. 

Mutsvangwa said the rollout of the vaccines to hotspot areas and border posts was in full swing, adding massive vaccination would also be extended to rural areas which are identified as hotspots.

“Cabinet is pleased to note that citizens across the country continue to present themselves for vaccination in large numbers,” she said. 

“In order to minimize the time spent in queues, extra personnel from security and defence forces have been harnessed so as to increase the numbers of personnel at the vaccination centres.  Furthermore, the Ministry of Health and Child Care, working with relevant government departments, is taking measures to ensure that vaccination, rapid response and case management teams are supported with vehicles, fuel and subsistence allowance to ensure that the country achieves herd immunity.”

She added that the Ministry of Health and Child Care had printed adequate stocks of vaccination cards with security features and was expediting the distribution process to all provinces.

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