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Zimbabwe authorizes four vaccines for emergency use

By Otiato Opali in Nairobi, Kenya | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-03-11 18:20

The first batch of Chinese-donated COVID-19 vaccine doses is unloaded from a plane at Robert Mugabe International Airport in Harare, Zimbabwe on Feb 15, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe has approved the use of four vaccines: Sinopharm and Sinovac from China, Covaxin from India and Sputnik V from Russia for emergency use in the country. Monica Mutsvangwa, Zimbabwe's information minister, made the announcement in a post-cabinet briefing late Tuesday.

The minister also urged companies intending to buy vaccines for their employees to procure only those registered in Zimbabwe. Two weeks ago, the government launched a nationwide COVID-19 vaccination program targeting frontline workers after receiving a donation of 200,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine from China. Mutsvangwa added 34,400 people were vaccinated countrywide in the first two weeks of the roll-out.

"Following wide-ranging consultations with the private sector, the following guidelines will be followed. All COVID-19 approved vaccines will be procured through the National Vaccine Procurement Fund managed by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development," Mutsvangwa said. "Organizations, individuals and any partners wishing to make donations toward vaccine procurement will do so to the president through the fund. Donations received and pledges made to date will be announced."

Zimbabwe plans to vaccinate more than 9 million people and is waiting for the delivery of 600,000 Sinopharm doses it purchased from China. So far, frontline workers are being vaccinated in the first phase while vulnerable people with chronic illnesses such as cancer, tuberculosis and diabetes will be covered in the second phase. Among those included in Zimbabwe's frontline workers are over 2,000 journalists who will be vaccinated before the public.

While outlining the procedure of acquiring vaccines in the country, Mutsvangwa said those interested in buying vaccines for their workforces will deposit their funds into the National Vaccine Procurement Fund after approval by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

"The National Vaccine Procurement Fund will procure on behalf of the organizations, guided by the national procurement guidelines. To ensure safety and efficacy, vaccines shall be kept at the central vaccine stores under the Ministry of Health and Child Care," she said.

The minister added only trained and registered health professionals shall be authorized to administer vaccines, and only the Ministry of Health and Child Care shall be responsible for issuing all COVID-19 vaccination certificates.

With a population of over 15 million people, Zimbabwe has so far recorded a total of 36,341 coronavirus cases, including 1,489 deaths and 33,953 recoveries according to the latest figures from the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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