Hundreds of Zimbabweans on Wednesday protested a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines as the country awaits more doses from China. The government wants to inoculate at least 60% of Zimbabwe’s more than 14 million people by the end of the year but has struggled to get the necessary supplies.
The crowd demanded to see authorities and began to protest but dispersed upon hearing police were on their way.
Zimbabwe’s junior health minister, Dr. John Mangwiro, on Tuesday said that government would redistribute COVID-19 vaccines from areas with lower demand to those where uptake has been high to avert current shortages.
He said Zimbabwe still had more than 400,000 doses from the 1.7 million COVID-19 vaccines it got from China, Russia and India since February.
A Zimbabwean receives a COVID-19 vaccine jab at Wilkins Hospital, Zimbabwe’s main vaccination center in Harare on May 12, 2021 when things were still on course. Then shortages began.
“As of 31st May, 2021, a total of 675,678 people had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and about 344,400 their second dose, this is across the country. Priority is being given to second doses,”
Executive director of Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, Calvin Fambirai,says his organization is worried about the COVID-19 vaccine shortages with winter season approaching the region.
He said “the vaccine shortages could have been avoided if there was proper planning on part of the government,” “Although we understand the limited availability of vaccines on the market, we have some countries like South Africa, which entered into bilateral deals with manufacturers. We cannot afford to rely on donations, government must be proactive and secure the vaccines for all Zimbabweans.”
The World Health Organization’s director for Africa, Dr.Matshidiso Moeti, appealed for at least 20 million vaccines of second doses for everyone who received their first shots on the continent to curtail a potential third wave of COVID-19.
Zimbabwe has 38,998 confirmed coronavirus infections and just under 1,600 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, which tracks the global outbreak.