Tuesday, 28 September, 2021
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Zimbabwe plays political roulette with vaccines

Despite a failing COVID-19 programme forcing the Zimbabwean government to allow private hospitals and clinics in infection hotspots to vaccinate, it insists the country will not accept Western vaccines, writes MedicalBrief.

Thandeikile Moyo writes for Citizen Maverick that presidential spokesperson George Charamba, posted a lengthy thread on Twitter on last week accusing the opposition MDC of having been given 500,000 doses of vaccines by the US embassy in order “to checkmate the goodwill that has accrued to ZANU-PF through a… public vaccination programme”.

Charamba said the only vaccines approved in Zimbabwe were the Chinese, Russian and Indian ones and Zimbabwe would not be accepting any Western vaccines.

The spokesperson for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), advocate Fadzai Mahere, responded by warning Charamba and ZANU-PF to stop playing vaccine politics. She said: “I repeat: the MDC Alliance has not received vaccines from any person or organization. It’s a matter of regret that Mr Charamba continues to act in this disgraceful manner. He is telling lies & playing politics with people’s lives instead [of] focusing on curbing vaccine hesitancy.”

In early July the Zimbabwean government rejected a donation of three million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, George Guvamatanga, gave the excuse that Zimbabwe had no storage facilities for the vaccines.

Proving that indeed, the government was playing vaccine politics with people’s lives, a few days later, it accepted a donation of two million Sinovac doses from China, writes Moyo.

While all this is happening, the government is frantically going out of its way to get as many people as possible vaccinated. On Tuesday it announced that it would give vaccines to private hospitals and private clinics in infection hotspots.

Private doctors and nurses will be allowed to charge a government-stipulated fee to administer the vaccines. Some Zimbabweans complained that this was tantamount to the government selling donated vaccines, but others welcomed the move, saying it would help decongest vaccination queues, which are themselves potential superspreaders.

Moyo writes that mortality and infection statistics in Zimbabwe are likely very much understated. "That said, it seems the vaccination uptake is increasing phenomenally as all the centres I visited reported and showed evidence of being overwhelmed with people seeking vaccines. By Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Health, almost 1.3 million people had received their first dose.

 

Maverick Citizen story – Twitter tales reveal the deadly height of Harare’s Covid-19 third wave (Open access)

 

See also from the MedicalBrief archives

 

U-turn on Zimbabweans having to pay for COVID-19 vaccine

 

UK offers to provide COVID-19 vaccine for 3m 'most vulnerable' Zimbabweans

 

COVID-19 exposes Zimbabwe's heart-rending health crisis

 

Zimbabwe judge rejects bid to stop COVID-19 hospital for the 'political elite'

 

 

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