CONSPIRACY theories are flying regarding perceived defects of Covid-19 vaccines, with some alleging the vaccination could be used as a population control tool in Africa.
Others say it leads to infertility, while religious adherents believe it’s the dreaded 666 mark of the beast referred to in the Bible.
Government recently announced that it was in the process of crafting policies to guide the rolling out of Covid-19 vaccines to curb the spread.
This comes at a time Britain recently offered to vaccinate 20% of its population, starting with vulnerable groups numbering three million.
British ambassador to Zimbabwe Melanie Robinson disclosed this during a recent courtesy call on Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga.
Chiwenga on Friday said the government was cautious in its policy as experts urged vaccination of at least 10 million people to plug continued infections.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says at least 20% in every participating country should be vaccinated by the end of 2021.
However, like in many countries, some Zimbabweans are sceptical about the vaccination following media reports of severe side effects on vaccinated populations.
On Friday, the Norwegian Medicines Agency, reported that 13 people died from side effects of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.
Norway cited fever and nausea as most common reactions to the vaccine.
In light of the new developments, Zimbabweans hinted that they would not volunteer for the jab.
Isaac Pasipanodya (43) of Chitungwiza — a father of three and a breadwinner of an extended family — says he will not hesitate to get the injection.
“This virus has brought death on our doorsteps and if we are not careful to seek remedy; we are in trouble. I will try this vaccine, maybe it’s the solution against the deadly virus so that we can work for our families,” he said.
But Dadisa Rafemoyo, a social work student at the University of Zimbabwe has reservations about the vaccine.
“I wouldn’t go for the vaccine because I don’t trust it. What guarantees my safety if anything goes wrong? Has it been tested and approved?” she asked.
Nellie Nakohore (35) queried: “What if the rumours are true that the West is planning a genocide attack on Africans and wipe us out through this vaccine. I can’t risk it.”
Mpilo Hospital acting chief executive officer Solwayo Ngwenya recently allayed fears of the jab.
“If vaccines were rolled out, there is a likelihood that they will flatten the curve together with the measures we’re already taking; the lockdowns, social distancing, wearing of masks and so forth. Our only problem is that the virus may mutate and change and then vaccines may not be appropriate because the virus will out-manouevre them,” he said
“The best thing is to get 67-70% of the population vaccinated. In Zimbabwean terms it means about 10 million people out of the 15 million must be vaccinated.
The vaccinated individuals act as a buffer against the unvaccinated people.”
The Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association (MDPPZA) president Johannes Marisa said vaccination was essential to reduce infections.
“Vaccines are generally good usually for outbreaks. We need vaccines or head immunity where 70 % of the people are vaccinated and are immune to that disease,” said Marisa.
“This is a new vaccine coming on a novel virus which has not been in existence, we hope for the best. The efficacy of it cannot be measured at the moment because we do not have a lot of information.”
Marisa said it was not known how people were going to react to the vaccine.
“But if this vaccine is going to work it means we have found a solution,” he said.
“Inasmuch as we want to contain this pandemic considering that only 90 million have been infected so far, it means a vaccine will probably stop transmissions.”
Zimbabwe Senior Hospital Doctors Association (ZSDHA) president Shingai Nyaguse said it was premature to comment as many vaccines were still on trial.
“There are many vaccines on trial. We can only comment when we know the particular vaccine government decides to buy,” she said
“We hope our regulators like the Medical Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) will be up to the task of verifying the vaccines in conjunction with regional bodies like Africa CDC and The East, Central and Southern African Health Community (ECSA).”
Recently, the United States of America President-elect Joe Biden got vaccinated on national television as the world’s biggest economy started rolling out the vaccination programme.
Elsewhere, Never Mumba, the president of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) in Zambia, vowed that no one in that country would be vaccinated unless the efficacy of the vaccine gets local approval.