Outrage as Zim asks citizens to pay for Covid-19 vaccine themselves

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The IMF expects Covid-19 vaccines to be rolled out across most countries by the second half of 2022.
The IMF expects Covid-19 vaccines to be rolled out across most countries by the second half of 2022.
  • Zimbabweans are outraged after a government minister suggested they pay for Covid-19 vaccines themselves.
  • Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube on Wednesday said government would only cater for frontline workers and the most vulnerable members of society.
  • Ncube said the vaccines would be cheaper than PPEs that people are already buying. 

Zimbabweans were left outraged on Wednesday evening after a senior government official said citizens will have to pay for their Covid-19 vaccine shots.

The southern African country, which recently said it had put together US$100 million (~R1.5 billion) for the procurement of vaccines for 60% of its population, is expecting to recover this money from citizens.

In an interview with Zimbabwe Television Network (ZTN), that country's finance minister Mthuli Ncube said government will only cater for frontline workers and the most vulnerable members of society.

"Look, private citizens obviously would have to pay for the vaccine as we have maintained the vaccine is actually cheaper than some of the personal private equipment [PPE] that they are procuring.

"So, there will be some payment model so that government can recoup the cost of procurement."

Ncube said this will also help government to raise enough resources to cover the entire population beyond the 10 million herd immunity target.

"Paying something for the vaccine from private citizens is very important so that we can cover those who cannot afford at all," said Ncube.

He said the ministry of health will clarify those who would get the vaccine for free.

Some Zimbabweans took their outrage to Twitter questioning the rationale of making people pay for the vaccine.

Exiled former minister Professor Jonathan Moyo questioned the logic of making people pay and at the same time targeting to achieve herd immunity.

Lawyer and Kent Law School academic Alex Magaisa believes corrupt government officials will count themselves first among "the most vulnerable members of society". 

However, others felt there was no need for government to subsidise citizens as the results of previous subsidies were the rapid decline in purchasing power of the local currency.

Zimbabwe is in negotiations with various sources of vaccines. According to Ncube, the choice of vaccines to be acquired will be driven by availability, access, efficacy and pricing.

Zimbabwe is also among 13 developing countries set to receive the Covid-19 vaccine from China according to that country's ambassador to Zimbabwe, Guo Shaochum.

According to an interim distribution forecast by COVAX - the WHO/GAVI-led Covid-19 vaccine programme - Zimbabwe has an initial allocation of 1 152 000 AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, licensed to the Serum Institute of India.

Meanwhile, as at 3 February, Zimbabwe had 33 964 confirmed cases, including 27 391 recoveries and 1 269 deaths. 

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