PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday lauded China for donating COVID-19 vaccines to Zimbabwe as the country embarks on its inoculation program.
China last week pledged to donate an additional 200,000 Sinopharm COVID-19 doses in additional to 200,000 doses received in the country last month.
Another 600,000 doses bought from Sinopharm are expected in the country this month.
The one million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine will be enough to vaccinate at least 500,000 people including frontline workers at risk of infection and a significant portion of the elderly and those with chronic conditions.
In a televised national address on Monday, Mnangagwa said the donation by China will go a long way in aiding Zimbabwe’s fight against the pandemic.
“On behalf of the government and the people of Zimbabwe, I once again express my profound gratitude to the president of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, the government and people of China for the additional donation of 200,000 doses of vaccines made to Zimbabwe just last week,” he said.
Mnangagwa said the generous gift by China will greatly contribute to Zimbabwe’s quest to achieve herd immunity.
“Over and above, the combined total of 400,000 donated doses, another 600,000 doses of Chinese vaccines will be arriving in the coming weeks, a further 1.2 million doses have also been availed by Chinese companies for Zimbabweans,” he said.
Mnangagwa also expressed gratitude to Russia, India and the United Kingdom for donating vaccines to the country.
“I equally express our gratitude to Russia, India, the United Kingdom who have pledged donations of various vaccines,” he said.
In addition, Mnangagwa also said vaccines will be administered free of charge.
Private players are also permitted to procure the vaccines but will be required to distribute them for free as the government do not permit profiteering from the vaccination program.
Furthermore, Mnangagwa announced a relaxation of a coronavirus lockdown imposed in January to curb the spread of the virus.
The further relaxation of the lockdown comes at a time when the southern African country has started its nationwide COVID-19 program with Sinopharm vaccines.
The government is targeting to vaccinate at least 10 million people as the absolute minimum to start achieving a degree of herd immunity.
More than 18,000 frontline workers have received the Sinopharm vaccine during the first week of the inoculation program which is currently underway.
At least 49,000 frontline workers will receive two inoculation jabs during the current first phase.
So far COVID-19 has killed 1,463 people in Zimbabwe and affected 36,089 people since March last year. — Xinhua