Covid-19 jab, ouch!

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By Black Edward

LOST in my thoughts, on my way to the supermarket yesterday, I suddenly came across a visibly pregnant woman. Looking at her, I got the impression that she was due any time. I was bemused to hear myself saying: “Lord, let it not be after 3pm.”
The government re-introduced tougher lockdown measures and only essential services such as hospitals, pharmacies and supermarkets can only open at 8am and must close at 3pm.

She looked at me and, as if she had heard me, said: “The government must act urgently to implement vaccination, so as to bring the pandemic under control, do away with lockdowns and reduce death rate…” I nodded and kept on walking.

Apart from vague Covid-19 vaccination plans which sound disturbingly hollow we haven’t heard anything concrete about a vaccine rollout strategy for Zim. There seem to be no zeal, no schedules, no procedures and not even negotiations with suppliers at the moment. What a pity!

Well, it’s going to take quite some time for the young Zimbabweans — those who shun speaking in the vernacular to be able to shout “Corona jab, ouch!” while rubbing their tender arms after vaccination.

We just hope the government is trying somehow to secure vaccines through deals with some manufacturers in light of the current soaring rates of infection and deaths due to the virus. It’s now critical for it to urgently stitch a vaccine deal or two.

In the meantime and considering that the vaccines may take some time to get here we continue to implore the government to scale up its testing as well as improve on contact tracing despite putting in place the hard 30- day lockdown.

But let’s bear in mind we need a strategy. Look, our neighbour South Africa laid out a long-awaited plan to distribute coronavirus vaccines. It will cost 20,6 billion rand to inoculate two-thirds of the population and the State will be the sole purchaser.

“We knew early on that the only way to fight Covid-19 would be to achieve herd immunity through vaccination,” Health minister Zweli Mkhize said. The monarchy of Eswatini aims to vaccinate all its 1,3 million people against Covid-19 and has set aside at least US$14 million to do so, senior officials in the kingdom said on Monday.

Israel has given vaccinations againstcoronavirus to more than one million people. Israel has a rate of 11,55 vaccination doses per 100 people, followed by Bahrain at 3,49 and the UK at 1,47, according to a global tracking website. President Emmerson Mnangagwa was recently quoted saying: “While a vaccine is the ultimate preventative measure, it is not available to us just yet. Preparations for the deployment of a vaccine, once approved, are, however, in progress guided by two national preparedness assessments conducted in October and November 2020.

“Zimbabwe will only roll out vaccines that have been analysed and found to be effective and safe for our population.” Shouldn’t we be talking to our all-weather friends? Beijing says it has inoculated more than 73 000 people in the first two days after China’s first domestic coronavirus vaccine was approved for commercial use. China’s capital has set up 220 vaccination centres around the city to dole out the two-step vaccine.

The Covid-19 pandemic has not only taken an enormous toll of illness but also loss of life and loss of livelihood. The anxiety, therefore, is understandable as the country is witnessing a spike in new infections. Of course, people are fed up with lockdowns: “If only we had a vaccine this would all go away.

We would not have to continue with these restrictions.” Unfortunately, the reality is that the vaccine will take a very long time to get to our doorstep and corona won’t disappear over night. In fact it is actually mutating and developing new strains which are even more deadly.

For example, the coronavirus pandemic hit a grim milestone in the United States on New Year’s Day, surpassing 20 million confirmed cases as domestic deaths continue to reach new daily highs and vaccination efforts begin to fall behind targets. The United Kingdom, one of the first countries in the world to roll out vaccines at the beginning of December, is currently experiencing a second wave considerably greater than the first wave. It is still battling the disease with one of the harshest lockdowns in the world.

The vaccine delay here, however, should offer us time to be analytical and to evaluate vaccines that have been developed. On top of that, more manufacturers have come up with vaccines, thereby widening the choice of our conditions. Our choice and strategic planning could well be influenced by observations coming from the feld behaviour of these vaccines. However, the public must be reminded that the Covid-19 vaccine arrival will not end the epidemic.

Vaccines will not immediately allow us all to go back to our pre-Covid-19 lives. Ouch!

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