ZIMBABWE continues to lead the Southern African countries in procuring and distributing the Covid-19 vaccine.
The country started rolling out the Sinopharm Covid-19 on February 22 and reported that by Friday afternoon, 571 460 people had received their first dose while 203 781 had received both doses of the vaccine.
Statistics from the online research platform Our World in Data show that neighbouring countries need to play catch-up to Zimbabwe.
The data shows that Zimbabwe has vaccinated 3.5% of its 14.5 million citizens.
In comparison, Botswana has a vaccination rate of 2.27% of its population, Namibia 1.35%, South Africa 0.77%, and Zambia at 0.49%.
In March, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa received his Covid-19 vaccine and with the increasing chance that people would travel to his country to get the vaccine, he confirmed recently that: “Zimbabweans will get the vaccine for free, but for foreigners who come here, they will receive the vaccine at a cost”.
Mnangagwa added: “This is a human element, we cannot deny anybody the vaccine, but if you are not Zimbabwean we will give you the vaccine at a cost.”
To date, there are four Covid-19 vaccines authorised for use in Zimbabwe – China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines, Russia’s Sputnik V, and Covaxin from India.
On Friday, the Public Servants Association (PSA), which represents more than 235 000 public-sector employees in South Africa, released a statement lamenting the slow pace of the vaccine roll-out in the country.
The PSA said it had “noted with concern the slow pace of Covid-19 vaccine roll-out in South Africa, which is causing citizens to cross the border to get vaccinated in Zimbabwe. This is a slap in the face for government’s roll-out programme whilst other countries are already in an advanced stage with roll-out processes”.
Although there is no data confirming that South Africans have become vaccine tourists and travelled to Zimbabwe, this could become a trend soon.
Last month, the Zimbabwean government confirmed that it was planning on distributing more vaccines to the town of Beitbridge, which borders South Africa.
A vaccination campaign to have every adult in Victoria Falls vaccinated was also launched last month to assure visitors Zimbabwe was a safe holiday destination.