According to Reuters, Zimbabwe kicked-off its COVID-19 vaccination program on Thursday after receiving a donation; of 200,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China earlier in the week.
Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, who doubles as the country’s health minister; was the first to receive the jab, at Harare’s Wilkins Hospital.
Zimbabwe aims to vaccinate around 60,000 healthcare and other frontline workers in the first round of vaccinations. The elderly and those with chronic conditions will follow.
The southern African country has so far reported more than 35,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 1,400 deaths.
Chiwenga told Parliament on Tuesday that Zimbabwe’s vaccination programme, which is free of charge, was targeting at least 10 million people, roughly 60% of the population.
The first phase is also being viewed as a test run to determine whether the Sinopharm jab is effective against the coronavirus variant that has spread to Zimbabwe since first being detected in South Africa.
“A total of 22% of the population will be vaccinated during the first phase. In the second phase, 18.4% people will be targeted, while 18.4% will be vaccinated in the third phase, thus achieving the target of vaccinating nearly 60% of the entire population,” Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told a news conference Tuesday.