By Anna Chibamu
CURRENT Covid-19 vaccines that have been recommended for use by government were carefully considered after massive deliberations by health officials and specialists, chief among them safety to citizens (efficacy rate) and the availability of resources in the country.
Health and Child Care deputy minister John Mangwiro said this on Thursday as he officially launched the Private Sector Covid-19 vaccination programme which is meant to aid the government in combating the pandemic.
Addressing delegates, Mangwiro said the vaccines (Sinopharm and Sinovac) were so far manageable as the government sat down with experts to weigh out options that were there before coming up with the choice that suited its financial resources and infrastructure as well as the safety of the drugs.
“Regarding the vaccines we are using, we have sat down as doctors and other health specialists,” Mangwiro, also a specialist physician, told guests from the business community during the launch.
“The best the country can manage in terms of storage are those that can be stored under 30 degrees Celsius which only managed by the Cold Storage Commission (CSC).
“Most of the drugs used by other countries need to be kept under very low temperatures of between -75 to -80 degrees Celsius and for us, looking at our infrastructure, this would mean a waste of resources to acquire those for our people.
“We would also risk losing lives as we wait for the manufacturing of such equipment or infrastructure that will preserve the drugs to remain effective before use.”
The deputy minister urged Zimbabweans to accept and use original and traditional vaccines that have been used over the years.
Some Zimbabweans have been sceptical about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, especially the Chinese made Sinopharm and Sinovac.
A lot have shunned the programme but Mangwiro highlighted that the figures of those going for vaccination had greatly improved in the past few weeks.
A total of 17 345 people received their first dose of either of the two vaccines on Wednesday, leading to a first dose cumulative total of 388 021 while 6 729 received their second dose.
This brings the cumulative total for 2nd dose to 69 992 people.
The country has so far recorded 38 191 cases of Covid-19 with 1565 deaths and 35 517 recoveries as of Wednesday, according to Health Ministry statistics.
The minister told journalists that Zimbabwe had also considered the Johnson and Jonson vaccine for the people with US$5 million so far paid for the drug.
Mangwiro warned citizens not to be complacent as the scourge continues to affect many especially in other countries such as India and Brazil where thousands are dying daily due to the deadly respiratory disease.
The disease has so far claimed over three million people in the world with bodies of the dead seen in the streets in countries as India past few days.
The health official attributed the low death figures and cases to stringent rules and other mechanisms adopted by the government as prescribed by World Health Organisation (WHO).