Zimbabwe has received its first batch of coronavirus vaccines with the arrival early Monday of an Air Zimbabwe jet carrying 200 000 Sinopharm doses donated by the People’s Republic of China.
It is one of China’s first shipments of vaccines to Africa, after deliveries to Egypt and Equatorial Guinea.
The vaccines were received at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by Vice President and Health and Child Care Minister Constantino Chiwenga and the Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Guo Shaochun.
Zimbabwe has also purchased an additional 600 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine that are expected to arrive in early March.
The government has said frontline workers such as health professionals and immigration agents working at border posts will get first priority for the vaccines.
There are fears that a new, more infectious variant of the virus came to the country when scores of thousands of Zimbabweans living in South Africa returned home in late December for the holiday season.
From March to the beginning of December 2020, Zimbabwe had recorded slightly more than 10 000 cases and 277 deaths but the numbers had tripled in just over two months to 35 172 cases and 1 400 deaths by 14 February 2021.