Zimbabwe has finalised a national COVID-19 vaccine deployment framework and will use the 200,000 doses donated by China to kickstart its inoculation programme that targets at least 60 percent of the population, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
In a State of the Nation Address broadcast on state television on Thursday night, Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe’s National Vaccination Strategy would “continue to be guided by the best available scientific evidence and the safety of all Zimbabweans remaining a priority.”
“The initial objective is to inoculate at least 60 percent of the population to achieve population immunity,” he said.
The first phase of inoculation of inoculation of the vaccine would see frontline workers such as medical and security personnel, as well as the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions being prioritized.
He dismissed reports attributed to Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube in which the treasury chief was quoted as saying ordinary Zimbabweans would be required to pay for the vaccines.
In an interview with the state-owned online broadcaster, the Zimpapers Television Network, Ncube had on Wednesday said only health workers and most vulnerable citizens would get free COVID-19 vaccine jabs, with “private citizens” paying between US$2 and US$7.
However, Mnangagwa said the vaccines will be “state-funded and free.”
He thanked the Chinese government for the donation of 200,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine.
“This kind gesture is in addition to the numerous donations, support and interventions made by China since the outbreak of the virus,” Mnangagwa said.
The Zimbabwean leader spoke as the Ministry of Health reported that 207 people had tested positive for COVID-19 between Wednesday and Thursday, while another 19 had succumbed to the virus.
The country has so far recorded 34,171 COVID-19 cases and 1,288 deaths since March last year.