Whither Covid-19 vaccine rollout calendar?

THE worst nightmare threatening the existence of humanity is Covid-19 with over 100 million infections and in excess of 2 million deaths globally, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Candid Comment
brian chitemba
bchitemba@yahoo.co.uk

Zimbabwe has its fair share of problems with over 32 000 cases, more than 1 100 deaths — including four ministers — Sibusiso Moyo, Joel Biggie Matiza, Perrance Shiri and Ellen Gwaradzimba.

In a world where deaths are commonplace, hope is grim; many are suffering panic attacks due to anxious moments.

Efforts to protect citizens through an aggressive vaccination programme to prevent morbidity and mortality are underway. Vaccination is key to achieving herd immunity — where about 70% of the population is protected from ongoing virus transmission.

Zimbabwe expects to receive three million doses of the vaccine worth US$20,5 million under the Covax scheme championed by the African Union. The cost of the vaccine is estimated between US$2 and US$9 per dose.

As Covid-19 spikes, President Emmerson Mnangagwa preached hope, declaring war against the virus. He, however, made a vague promise of a solution “in the coming days and weeks” without giving specifics.

Acting President Constantino Chiwenga also made bold assertions but without substance. It simply means Zimbabwe has no known vaccination rollout programme save for a shameful priority list which includes cabinet ministers, members of parliament, and security forces announced by Health and Child Care ministry head of monitoring, Robert Mudyiradima, in parliament this week.

This is evident that the rulers — who usually fly out for specialised treatment but are currently marooned by Covid-19 — only care for their safety. The level of selfishness is astounding. What then happens to the elderly — above 60 and those with underlying conditions? The ordinary man who cannot afford the US$3 000 private hospital fees for Covid-19 treatment is thrown at the back-end of the list. The elites — who survive on taxpayers’ money — put up an upmarket Covid-19 facility in the plush Mt Pleasant suburb, and now realising that the virus is no respecter of class, will first take the jabs.

Yes, leadership should be protected to ensure national security, however priority must go to the sick and elderly population. Hence, averments of servant leadership are blatant cheap political rhetoric.

Contrarily, South Africa has laid out a clear vaccination plan with 1,5 million targeted in the first phase where healthcare workers, persons older than 18 years with comorbidities, above 60 years, retail workers, teachers and prisoners are covered in the second phase aiming to help 16 million people. This is in stark contrast to our own dithering government.

Africa, with 1,2 billion people will access vaccines from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, the Serum Institute of India, and Johnson & Johnson, but may the powers that be also prioritise what some scholars may refer as the subalterns  — the marginalised and vulnerable.