HomeOpinion & AnalysisCovid-19 vaccine deals must be transparent

Covid-19 vaccine deals must be transparent

Zimbabwe is expecting its first delivery of Covid-19 vaccines this week with the government indicating inoculations will start immediately for vulnerable groups.

China donated 200 000 doses of its Sinopharm vaccine and the government says it made further purchases from the same supplier using its own resources.

The authorities say by the first week of March, at least 600 000 doses would have been received from China.

Zimbabwe is also negotiating with Russia and India for the supply of more Covid-19 vaccines with a target to inoculate 60% of the population or 10 million people to reach herd immunity.

Until last week, the government was incredibly secretive about its vaccination plans.

Some organisations had to go to court to try and force the authorities to be more open about the choice of vaccines and the distribution plan.

The disclosures, however, still did not go far enough to inform citizens why the government settled for the identified vaccines.

There is a wide array of vaccines for Covid-19 that have been approved around the world besides those from China, Russia and India.

Zimbabwe also has the choice of signing up to the United Nations’ Covax facility, a global initiative aimed at equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.

If the government takes up that offer now, the country would be guaranteed over one million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca- University of Oxford Covid-19 vaccines by July.

Under Covax, Zimbabwe has an allocation of up to three million vaccines to cover 20% of the population.

So far the government has not proffered any scientific explanations why it has been slow in responding to calls to join Covax while rushing to take the Chinese offer.

As far as we know, the efficacy of the Sinopharm vaccine that Zimbabwe is receiving this week has not been tested locally.

Information about the choice of vaccines is necessary to convince sceptics that the jabs are safe given the misinformation that has characterised global efforts to find a vaccine for Covid-19.

Besides the safety concerns, taxpayers deserve to know how whether their money is being used diligently.

The government owes it to taxpayers to explain why it is choosing Chinese vaccines over the European or North American ones.

Is it about cost or efficacy?

Such questions need to be answered from the word go to eliminate chances of corruption in the vaccines procurement processes.

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