Zimbabwe has received its first 200 000 coronavirus vaccines, a donation by the Chinese government.
Vice President and Health Minister Constantino Chiwenga was at the Robert Mugabe International Airport in the capital, Harare, in the early hours of Monday for the arrival of the doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China.
“It has not been lost on us that in times of need China’s response has been swift,” he said, describing China’s donation as “yet another demonstration of the long bond of friendship and solidarity”.
The donation is one of China’s first shipments of vaccines to Africa, after deliveries to Egypt and Equatorial Guinea. President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has purchased an additional 600 000 Sinopharm vaccine doses that are expected to arrive early next month, according to state media.
The first doses will undergo routine checks by the local medicines control authority before being administered this week. Health professionals and immigration agents working at border posts will get first priority for the jabs, according to a government roll-out plan.
The Chinese-made jabs are just the start of the millions needed for Zimbabwe to vaccinate 10 million people, representing 60% of the country’s population.
Zimbabwe “has also submitted its expression of interest” to be part of an initiative by the African Union to buy vaccines in bulk for the continent, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said last week.
As of Sunday, Zimbabwe had recorded 35 172 confirmed cases of Covid-19, including 1 400 related deaths.