By Robert Tapfumaneyi
ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have written to Health Minister Constantino Chiwenga demanding assurances the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine being imported into the country by government was safe.
The rights group also wants government to place guarantees future vaccines to be used in tandem with the Chinese made Sinopharm are subjected to the necessary tests for safety and efficacy, publish the results before use on the innocent public.
The lawyers’ group threatened to approach the courts if they did not get a favourable response by close of business this Friday.
“It is therefore our client’s view that clinical trials precede the rolling out of the vaccination programme, the aim being to establish whether the vaccination drug undergoing trials is safe to administer and will not have adverse side effects,” wrote Mbizo, Muchadehama and Makoni representing ZLHR.
“If that happens, many lives would be put to risk as they may be victims to irreversible side effects.
“Reports from other countries where this vaccines have been tested appear to confirm possibility of such side effects.”
ZLHR also said they were taken aback by acting Health Secretary Robert Mudyirandima’s recent pronouncements that during roll out, tests will be made to measure the vaccine’s effectiveness on current mutations, variants and strains.
The country on Monday took delivery of 200 000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine donated by the Chinese government and more are expected next month.
Vaccination of health workers started Thursday at Wilkins Hospital in Harare with Vice President and Health Minister Constantino Chiwenga volunteering to be first to get the jab.
The pioneer inoculation process was also set to be extended to some 1 375 police officers, 604 Zimbabwe Defence Forces members, 436 prison employees, 5 138 public health workers, 271 private health workers and 500 Immigration workers.