Zimbabwe on Saturday received a half-million Sinopharm shots against COVID-19 it bought from China, a development officials said would put its vaccination program back on track.
After the plane with the Sinopharm shots landed, Zimbabwe Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said his government would ensure that the country has no vaccine shortages in the future.
“We are receiving 2 million vaccines by end of next week, and after that we will order 1.5 million vaccines, and in the month of August will order another 3.5 million vaccines," Ncube said. "So you can see we are very focused in terms of our vaccine acquisition agenda. We will not have a shortage at all. We are headed for herd immunity and we will get there.”
Zimbabwe is one of the African countries seeing recent increases in COVID-19 cases. On Saturday, Dr. John Mangwiro, Zimbabwe’s deputy health minister, said the government intensified its vaccination program to contain the spike in cases.
“COVID-19 disease is back via a third wave," he said. "As a government, we are going
to target border towns for vaccination so that we make sure that if things are getting worse, our border areas are protected, because you find that most of these [new cases] are coming via our borders. We are going to target areas that are very risky and that the disease can come through. ... These are tobacco-auction floors, markets, cotton sales floors. All those will be targeted.”
On Thursday, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who doubles as Zimbabwe’s health minister, said he wanted everyone vaccinated, starting with vendors. On Saturday, Samuel Wadzai, executive director of the Zimbabwe Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation, said his organization understood the importance of vaccination.
“But we expect the government to urge citizens to embrace the vaccination program," Wadzai said. "That should be done through information dissemination on its importance to the country and economy. We know the pandemic has decimated economies, lives and livelihoods. But we disagree [about] forcing citizens to get vaccinated. When the program started, we were told that people would not be forced. It should remain that way.”
So far, fewer than 738,000 Zimbabweans have received their first shots, and nearly 485,000 have received their second shots since the program started in February.
Zimbabwe has had 45,217 confirmed coronavirus infections and 1,721 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center in the United States, which tracks the global outbreak.