Harare (New Ziana) – Zimbabwe on Monday took delivery of its first Covid-19 vaccines, 200 000 doses donated by China which the government has said would be earmarked for frontline health workers and vulnerable citizens.
Inoculations, which are on voluntary basis, begin immediately to help the country contain a second wave of the pandemic which has so far killed over 1 400 and infected over 35 000 others.
The vaccine is manufactured by Chinese firm, Sinopharm, and is one of a handful approved for use world wide.
Earlier, President Emerson Mnangagwa said government had readied its vaccination programme ahead of the delivery of the vaccines, which also includes some from Russia.
“The first batch of vaccines for Zimbabwe has been successfully delivered. We start vaccinating Zimbabweans this week. The faster our country is protected against this virus the faster Zimbabwe’s economy can flourish,” he wrote on his social media platforms.
Receiving the consignment at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, Vice President General Constantino Chiwenga (Rtd), who is also Health and Child Care Minister, thanked China for the timely donation.
“This is a timely donation given the recent ravages and prejudice that visited our nation through COVID-19. We receive these vaccines as a glimmer of hope to the nation that finally we might be on the verge of returning to some semblance of normalcy,” he said.
“The vaccine also offers the possibility that our people who have borne the brunt of economic challenges brought by the pandemic might finally turn a new page.”
Chinese Ambaassador to Zimbabwe, Guo Shaochun pledged to ensure availability of more vaccine doses from China.
“I am very pleased that Zimbabwe is one of the first countries to receive this vaccine from China, that is because China and Zimbabwe enjoy strategic cooperation and profound friendship,” he said.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said Zimbabwe was targeting to buy more doses from China.
“(The) arrival of 200 000 COVID-19 doses from Sinopharm, China early this morning on Air Zimbabwe, donated by the Chinese government kick-starts the vaccine acquisition program of 1.8 million doses from China,” he said.
The Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine has an efficacy of up to 86 percent and is being used by other countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, UAE, Morocco and Egypt.
Zimbabwe is targeting to inoculate 60 percent of its population by year end.