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Zimbabwe president hails China's vaccine aid

By Tonderayi Mukeredzi in Harare | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-03-17 13:45

A booth displaying a coronavirus vaccine candidate from China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), is seen at the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), following the COVID-19 outbreak, in Beijing, in this September 4, 2020 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]

Zimbabwe on Tuesday received a second batch of 200,000 vaccine doses donated by China, a separate consignment of 200,000 vaccine doses it procured from Sinovac and 1.2 million medical consumables bought from Sinopharm.

Speaking at a handover ceremony held at the Robert Mugabe International Airport on March 16, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe is the first country in Africa that has so far received a second batch of COVID-19 vaccines from China.

The current donation brings the total number of vaccine doses that China has donated to Zimbabwe to 400,000. In February, Zimbabwe received 200,000 doses of vaccines from China, becoming one of the first 14 developing nations to receive vaccine aid from the Asian giant.

President Mnangagwa said the vaccination intervention would immensely help the country achieve its herd immunity goal of at least 60 percent of the population, and demonstrated the strong relations between Zimbabwe and China.

"We are making steady progress in the fight against the pandemic and in the on-going national COVID-19 vaccination rollout program," he said. "We remain thankful to China for their support of this program. This includes the timely provision of epidemiological expertise and personal protective equipment, among other aspects."

Guo Shaochun, the Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe, said his country was pleased Zimbabwe was among the earliest to receive vaccine donations from China, and one of the few to which China has donated twice so far.

"This is the most powerful interpretation of the great friendship and solidarity between our two countries and our two peoples," he said.

Guo revealed China had donated COVID-19 vaccines to 69 developing countries in urgent need, and is exporting vaccines to 43 countries.

More than 60 countries have authorized the use of Chinese vaccines, he said, adding the safety and effectiveness of Chinese vaccines are earning recognition across the world.

The diplomat said China opposed vaccine nationalism. "We reject any 'vaccine divide' or any attempt to politicize vaccine cooperation."

On Feb 18, Zimbabwe launched a nationwide COVID-19 vaccination program prioritizing frontline workers and the media after taking delivery of vaccines from China.

A total of 37,760 people have been vaccinated within the first 20 days of the inoculation exercise. Four vaccines – Sinopharm and Sinovac from China, Covaxin from India and Sputnik-V from Russia — have been authorised for emergency use by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe.

In addition to the vaccine donation from China, the government has bought 1.2 million doses of vaccines from China and will receive 75,000 from Russia and 12,000 from India. The balance of 1 million vaccines from China is expected to arrive in the country at the end of March or early April.

As of March 15, Zimbabwe had 36,504 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 34,051 recoveries and 1,504 deaths.

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