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Zim grappling to reach COVID-19 herd immunity as lethargy creeps in – Minister

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By Xinhua


HARARE: The Zimbabwean government on Tuesday lamented the wide gap that exists between first and second dose coverage of the COVID-19 vaccine in the country.

Zimbabwe was among the first countries on the African continent to roll out COVID-19 vaccination in February last year after receiving a donation of vaccines from China and had targeted to reach herd immunity by December last year.

That goal, however, remains elusive as vaccination lethargy creeps in among the population.

The government has tried various initiatives to ramp up vaccination, including launching a vaccination blitz in March this year targeting children from 12 years and above. With that blitz, the government had hoped to reach 70 percent of the total population by the end of July 2022, but the national coverage still remains below 60 percent.

Addressing a post-Cabinet media briefing Tuesday, acting information minister Jenfan Muswere said there was a huge gap between the number of people who had received their first and second doses, which needed to be closed.

“Cabinet wishes to inform the nation that, as of 18th July 2022, a total of 6,346,598 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been administered, while 4,698,444 people had received their second dose, and 916,459 their third dose,” said Muswere.

Zimbabwe has a population of more than 14 million people.

“This translates to national coverage of 56.4 percent compared to the 56.3 percent recorded the previous week. The government will therefore continue to intensify vaccination activities in order to bridge the gap between the 1st and 2nd dose coverage as well as reach herd immunity before year-end,” said Muswere.

“Emphasis will continue to be placed on risk communication and community engagement to increase vaccination uptake,” Muswere said.

Zimbabwe has to date recorded 256,137 COVID-19 cases, with 250,059 recoveries and 5,568 deaths. The recovery rate is at 98 percent as the overall number of new COVID-19 cases continues to decrease.