Zimbabwe buys 2 million more COVID-19 vaccines, amid rising demand for shots

Part of the consignment of new vaccines arriving at RGM International, July 8

Zimbabwe on Thursday received two million more COVID-19 vaccine doses bought from Sinovac, pledging to ramp up a vaccination campaign that is under pressure from rising demand for shots.

The latest delivery means Zimbabwe has now bought 3.2 million vaccines from Sinovac. This adds to another 500 000 doses bought earlier from Sinopharm, 500 000 donated Sinopharm doses, 35 000 donated Covaxin doses, and a donation of 25 000 2Sputnik V doses from Russian company Alrosa.

Zimbabwe has so far spent US$40 million of its initial budget of US$100 million set aside for vaccine procurement, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said as the vaccines arrived.

Ideally, he said, Zimbabwe must target to deliver vaccines to 100,000 people every day if it is to meet its ambitious target of reaching herd immunity.

After early hesitancy, public demand for vaccines has shot up in recent weeks as many respond to a sharp rise in new cases of coronavirus. The demand has overwhelmed some vaccination centres, many of which are understaffed and short of adequate vaccines.

A global vaccine shortage has left many African countries lagging behind on immunisations. Because of the shortages, many countries are facing delays in delivering vaccines that they have paid for.

On Wednesday, WHO director Tedros Ghebreyesus said developing countries need more vaccines urgently in order to respond to virus mutations.

“Variants are currently winning the race against vaccines because of inequitable vaccine production and distribution, which also threatens the global economic recovery,” Tedros said.

By Wednesday, just 579,699 people had received their second dose, according to data from the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

Zimbabwe hit fresh records during the current wave, with 2 264 new COVID-19 being detected on Wednesday from 10 362 PCR tests. In total, the country has recorded 60,227 cases, 42,330 recoveries and 1,973 deaths.