Zimbabwe on Monday received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines from China as the southern African nation received a boost in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
A plane carrying about 200,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine donated by the Chinese government touched down at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe Airport in the capital Harare early on Monday morning.
Grand Arrival. Air Zimbabwe flight carrying Covid-19 vaccines touched down at RGM Airport shortly before 06.45 hrs. pic.twitter.com/spEIwOeI6E
— Ministry of Information, Publicity & Broadcasting (@InfoMinZW) February 15, 2021
China listed Zimbabwe among the first three African countries that will get free doses of the Chinese vaccine, along with 11 other developing nations.
According to Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, Zimbabwe will also take delivery of the first batch of the vaccines it had purchased from China early in March.
Zimbabwe is scheduled to roll out its COVID-19 vaccination program this week, according to a statement issued last week by Deputy Health Minister John Mangwiro.
The vaccination will take place in phases, beginning with frontline workers at high risk of infection, followed by those with chronic diseases; the elderly and the prison population under phase one.
After the second phase involving lecturers, school staff members, and others at medium risk, those at relatively low risk will be inoculated under phase three.
Mangwiro said Zimbabwe has enough cold chain equipment to maintain the vaccines in their potent state up to the point of use, and that the actual administration of the vaccines will be done by trained staff at fixed and outreach points.
Zimbabwe intends to vaccinate all of its eligible population on a voluntary basis free of charge.
Zimbabwe has so far reported more than 35,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 1,300 deaths, according to data from the World Health Organization.