Zimbabwe to get 200,000 COVID-19 doses from China’s Sinopharm

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa has revealed that Zimbabwe will receive 200,000 free doses of China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine. Mnangagwa, in a nationally televised address, also said there were plans to vaccinate at least 60% of the population using government and private sector funding.

China will also donate 100 000 vaccine doses to Congo Republic, as part of the 14 African Nations that are to receive vaccine aid from China.

The coronavirus pandemic has increased rapidly in Zimbabwe over the past few weeks, with about 70% of its known 33,964 infections and more than two thirds of the 1,269 deaths recorded since the beginning of January.

The Sinopharm vaccine is approved in China for general public use and is also being administered in a number of other countries. “This kind gesture attests to the fact that China is indeed a true friend of Zimbabwe,” Mnangagwa said.

China is a major investor in Zimbabwe especially in diamond mining and the energy sector, where it is building power stations, and is providing loans after Western lenders pulled out following more than two decades of Zimbabwean arrears.

Chinese Ambassador Guo Shaochun has said Zimbabwe was one of the first 14 countries to receive vaccine aid from Beijing.

Mnangagwa said his government had finalised a vaccine deployment strategy that would see at least 9 million people - 60% of the population - being inoculated.

“First phase of inoculation will see frontline workers, the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions being prioritised,” he said, giving no further detail.

A finance ministry official said last week Zimbabwe had set aside $100 million to procure COVID-19 vaccines. China will donate 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Congo Republic and forgive $13 million in public debt, its ambassador to the Central African country said on Thursday.

Meanwhile Ambassador Ma Fulin has that Congo Republic will receive 100 000 doses. He announced the measures after a meeting with Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

The doses are enough to vaccinate 50,000 of Congo’s 5.1 million people. Congo, which has recorded 8,060 infections and 122 coronavirus-related deaths, has been allocated 420,000 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine for the first half of this year under the global COVAX vaccine-sharing facility.

As lower income countries struggle to obtain doses, China is aiming to cultivate goodwill through so-called vaccine diplomacy. It said on Monday that it was providing vaccine aid to 13 countries globally and planned to help a further 38.

Ma said the Chinese government would also forgive all public Congolese debt that came due before the end of 2020, an estimated $13 million. China offered similar relief to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo last month.


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