Zimbabwe to vaccinate citizens against COVID-19 for free after China’s pledge

On Thursday, Zimbabwe said it would vaccinate all of its citizens for free against Covid-19 after China promised to donate vaccines to the southern African country.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who doubles as Minister of Health and Child Care, said the government would also purchase additional vaccines to complement China’s donations.

China announced this week that Zimbabwe was among the African countries that were set to receive vaccines to stop the spread of Covid-19, but the quantities were not disclosed. .

“We welcome and are very grateful to the People’s Republic of China for its donation. The landmark gesture will achieve a milestone in combating the pandemic,” Retired General Chiwenga revealed.

“The government of Zimbabwe has embarked on a deliberate programme to acquire more vaccines. It will rollout vaccination for free to all citizens who may wish to be vaccinated. The policy is inspired by humane morals … that life should not be for sale.”

The statement came a day after Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said “private citizens” would pay for the Covid-19 vaccine jabs to boost the government recoup expenses of obtaining them.

On Thursday, Prof Ncube issued a statement saying that he had been misunderstood and that the vaccination would be free of charge.

For the programme, no timeliness was given.

In order to achieve herd immunity, the government previously said it required $100 million to purchase 20 million vaccine doses to inoculate 60 percent of the population, or 10 million people.

Zimbabwe was in talks with Russia and China on the supply of Covid-19 vaccines, Portia Mananganzira, director of epidemiology and disease control, said.

The vaccines cost between $2.50 and $7 a shot, Dr Manangazira said.

According to Nation Africa, Zimbabwe has struggled to contain the pandemic, with January proving to be the worst month in terms of infections and fatalities since the first case was reported last March.

Health experts say the rise in cases is being fueled by the more infectious South African variant of the coronavirus.

For the Christmas holidays, Zimbabwe reopened its borders, a move which saw thousands of its citizens return home from South Africa.

The nation had confirmed 33,964 cases of Covid-19 as of February 3, including 1,269 fatalities and 27,391 recoveries.

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