HomeLocal NewsZim in talks with China for Covid-19 vaccines

Zim in talks with China for Covid-19 vaccines

Tinashe Kairiza

CHINA, emerging from the catastrophic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, has developed 13 potential vaccines, four of which are undergoing final stages of clinical trials.

According to informed government sources, there are ongoing discussions between Zimbabwe and some countries, which are part of the World Health Organisation (WHO) initiative, including China, to get the vaccines once they are approved and licensed.

Zimbabwe, leveraging on its historical ties with China, is hoping to benefit from the vaccines. The government has been supportive of China’s vaccine trials.

The source said: “Zimbabwe, because of its close ties to China, is mostly to benefit from the vaccines when they are approved and licensed. Zimbabweans must embrace these developments and efforts to find vaccines that effectively prevent infection of the virus. It is good that the government is making serious effort to make a deal with countries that are developing the vaccines so that we also benefit when they are approved.”

Covid-19, which has killed 1,2 million people and devastated economies across the globe, was first reported in the Asian country in Wuhan City in December last year.

The disease has claimed 4 547 lives in China, but fatalities have eased due to the robust containment measures deployed by the Asian country, including piloting a cocktail of vaccines.

According to China Daily, four of the vaccines are being administered to 60 000 volunteers to assess their effectiveness as the world grapples to find a cure to the global pandemic.

Quoting deputy head of the Department of Science and Technology for Social Development of the Ministry of Science and Technology Tian Baoguo, the publication highlighted that China would ensure the world would have access to the vaccines at an affordable price.

“China currently has 13 vaccine candidates in clinical trials, of which three inactivated vaccines and one adenovirus vector vaccine are in phase three trials, and about 60 000 volunteers have been inoculated with the four vaccine candidates.

“China is proactively fulfilling its promise of making Covid-19 vaccines a global public good and promoting equitable access to safe and effective vaccines,” Baoguo said.

China is already undertaking clinical trials under Covax, an initiative spearheaded by WHO and development partners to ensure that the drug would be readily available across the globe.

Baoguo added: “On October 8, China joined Covax, an initiative co-led by the WHO and partners to ensure efficient and equitable global access to a Covid-19 vaccine. As of Tuesday, 184 countries and regions had joined the initiative.”

China’s annual production capacity of the Covid-19 vaccine is projected to swell to 610 million doses this year, with plans afoot to upscale output in 2021.

The world’s economic giant in May dispatched 12 medical experts equipped with a consignment of test kits and protective gear to help Zimbabwe respond effectively to the pandemic.

China has so far donated more than one million masks, 51 000 testing kits, and 140 000 pieces of other types of personal protective equipment.

Zimbabwe has recorded 248 deaths from Covid-19.

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