DOCTORS yesterday implored authorities to prioritise acquiring Covid-19 vaccines as the lethal virus continued to kill more Zimbabweans, amid rising infections in the country.
This comes as 22 people succumbed to the respiratory disease on Friday alone as the number of people infected by the novel virus — since it was first reported in the country last March — edges towards 20 000.
The government on Friday said it was finalising plans to acquire the much-needed coronavirus vaccines which are seen as having a significant mitigatory role in curbing the deadly disease.
Speaking to the Daily News On Sunday yesterday, the secretary- general of the Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA) , Aaron Musara, warned that the soaring deaths and infections in the country now needed authorities to “think outside the box”.
“The vaccine is now needed more than any other time in our country just like everywhere else as we look for means to contain this pandemic.
“This is not to say the vaccine will be the alpha and omega. As to what extent the vaccine will be able to contain the virus, it still remains to be seen since the wider impact hasn’t been seen yet throughout the world though there is promise from the research done so far. The changing nature of the bug hasn’t been fully evaluated as yet as to its impact on the vaccine so the current measures must still be observed. We encourage the public to be vigilant,” Musara told the Daily News On Sunday.
Highly-regarded Bulawayo-based medical doctor, Solwayo Ngwenya, urged the government to acquire vaccines to complement the current mitigatory measures such as the hard 30-day lockdown.
“We will need to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the population in Zimbabwe that is a lot of doses of vaccine. We need at least a million doses for us to be relaxed yet we have zero people who have been vaccinated. Therefore, lockdown measures are going to continue in the long-term until enough people are vaccinated,” Ngwenya said.
This comes as 22 people succumbed to Covid-19 on Friday alone —bringing the national death to 468 as the country battles to contain the pandemic.
According to a ministry of Health and Child Care update on Covid-19 yesterday “as at 08 January Zimbabwe had 19 660 confirmed cases, including 12 184 recoveries and 468 deaths.
“985 new cases and 22 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. 984 are local transmissions while one is a returnee from Zambia. Harare reported 404 cases,” it said.
At the weekend deputy Health and Child Care minister, John Mangwiro, said the country was already moving towards acquiring a Covid-19 vaccine once the modalities and preparations for a national roll-out had been concluded.
Mangwiro said while preparations for a nationwide roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine were underway, the government was presently preoccupied with ensuring that the country’s confirmed cases do not continue on an upward trajectory.
“We are moving towards introducing the Covid-19 vaccine and the necessary processes including registration and the procurement modalities as well as working out how much will be needed are underway.
“Our message at the moment is the people must stay at home and do the right thing to ensure they don’t exacerbate the spread of Covid-19 for the sake of everyone’s well-being,” Mangwiro told our sister paper, the Daily News on Friday.
Zimbabwe is party to the World Health Organisation (WHO) led Global Access Facility — Covax — which plans to secure and distribute millions of doses of the vaccine to developing countries, once licensed and approved.
The initiative, which seeks to secure at least 220 million doses, will enable the fast and equitable distribution of the vaccine.