Vials of Sputnik V, left, and Sinopharm's Covid-19 vaccines. Picture: OLIVER BUNIC/REUTERS
Vials of Sputnik V, left, and Sinopharm's Covid-19 vaccines. Picture: OLIVER BUNIC/REUTERS

Harare —  Zimbabwe has purchased 600,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses from China's Sinopharm, in addition to 200,000 China has donated,  information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said, adding these were due to arrive in Zimbabwe by the start of March.

Mutsvangwa also said on Wednesday Zimbabwe is negotiating with Russia over the procurement of its Sputnik V vaccines  and was expecting more doses from India and Covax.

Russian diamond producer Alrosa CEO  Sergei Ivanov said earlier  the company  would donate “dozens of thousands” of  Sputnik shots  to Zimbabwe and  Angola. Alrosa, which has operations in both countries, will supply the vaccines once emergency use authorisation is granted, Bloomberg reports.

A total of 800,000 Sinopharm doses are expected in the country by the start of March, Mutsvangwa said in a video posted on the ministry’s Twitter feed. Flights would be sent to  China to collect the shots no later than February 13.

“The donation of 200,000 doses and an initial batch of 600,000 doses which the Zimbabwe government has purchased are expected in the country by February 15 2021 and the first week of March 2021, respectively,” she said.

Only a handful of African nations have begun giving vaccinations as the continent scrambles to obtain supplies for its 1.3-billion people, even as many richer nations are racing ahead with mass immunisation campaigns.

Zimbabwe has set aside $100m for vaccine procurement, and is looking to buy 20-million doses in a bid to immunise about 60% of its population and achieve herd immunity.

“Thank you to both China and Russia for their donation of Covid-19 vaccines to the people of Zimbabwe,” President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on his Twitter account. “Your generosity during this dark time will not be forgotten.”

Zimbabwe has reported 34,864 confirmed cases of the virus and 1,364 deaths, the majority of which have been recorded since the start of 2021.

Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, once scorned by the West, has now been approved for use in at least 20 countries, and with an efficacy of 91.6% it is in the same league as Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech  rivals.



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