Zim allocated 984,000 AstraZeneca doses under revised COVAX allocation plan

Zimbabwe has been allocated 984,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, down from the initial 1,152 million, under a revised schedule just published by Gavi, the global vaccine alliance.

The COVAX facility was set up by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for poorer countries.

According to the revised schedule of first round allocations, 237 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine – manufactured under licence by Serum Institute of India – will be distributed to 142 countries between February and May 2021. An interim allocation forecast published early February had estimated that 336 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine would become available by June 2021.

Ghana and Ivory Coast became the first countries in the world to receive vaccines under the COVAX scheme. The two countries began inoculating people this week.

Under the new schedule, Zimbabwe is in line to receive 984,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, down from the 1,152 million doses in terms of the preliminary allocation roster published last month. 

Gavi chief executive Seth Berkley told a media briefing on Tuesday afternoon that the changes had been caused by difficulties in regulatory processes and shipping.

“The reason some of the numbers have changed is because of the complexity of getting pre-qualification approvals and shippings. The same number of doses will ultimately be made available,” Berkeley said.

Pfizer, which currently has an allocation of just1.2 million doses for 18 countries, is not included in the first round of deliveries. Only four African countries – Cape Verde (5,850 doses), Rwanda (102,960 doses), South Africa (117,000 doses) and Tunisia (93,000 doses) – are in line to receive the Pfizer vaccine when it becomes available for its first round of deliveries.  

“Pfizer has required countries to do some additional work on deliveries and indemnification and liability issues and that has taken some time. That’s one of the reasons why there has been some delay in rolling out that vaccine,” Berkeley explained.

The 984,000 vaccine doses Zimbabwe will get through the COVAX facility will add to the 1.8 million doses the country plans to buy from China in its quest to vaccinate at least 10 million people. Zimbabwe also expects 75,000 doses from India and 20,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia, a Cabinet statement said on Tuesday.