CHINA has started rolling out Covid-19 vaccine aid to its strategic partners, including Zimbabwe, as the world’s second largest economy steps up efforts to contain the deadly pandemic.
Pakistan became the first country this week to receive a consignment of Beijing’s Covid-19 shots.
China’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe Guo Shaochun recently announced on microblogging site Twitter, that Harare would soon receive the jabs.
Locally, the disease has killed over 1 260 people, including four ministers. There are over 5 300 active cases.
“Zimbabwe will be one of the first 14 countries to receive vaccine aid from China very soon,” Shaochun said.
Outside China’s expected donation, Zimbabwe, among other African nations will receive doses under the World Health Organisation Covax programme.
Government has announced a US$100 million war chest to acquire vaccines.
South Africa has since taken delivery of one million AstraZeneca doses and will prioritise inoculating frontline medical personnel.
The Chinese vaccine, manufactured by Sinopharm, registered success in slowing spread of the disease with a 76% efficacy rate, according to clinical trials.
“In the early hours of today, a batch of inactivated Covid-19 vaccines donated by the Chinese government to Pakistan arrived in Islamabad. It was the first batch of vaccine aid provided by the Chinese government to another country and a concrete step in honouring President Xi (Jinping)’s pledge of making Covid-19 vaccines a global public good.
“China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic partners. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the two sides have been supporting and assisting each other.
“Last year, at China’s most trying moments, Pakistan was among the first countries to donate medical supplies to us in a great act of valuable support. When the epidemic situation in China eased, we supported Pakistan’s fight against the virus through various means including donating medical supplies and sending medical experts,” Chinese Foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.
China is prioritising distribution of the Sinopharm vaccine to developing nations like Zimbabwe, Brunei, Nepal, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Palestine, Belarus, Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea.
Wenbin added: “China has been acting through concrete actions on President Xi Jinping’s solemn commitment of making Covid-19 vaccines, developed and deployed in China, a global public good, thus contributing to greater accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries. That’s what we have been saying and what we have been doing.
“Going forward, we will also assist another 38 developing countries with vaccines. We also take an active part in the WHO-led Covax and provide vaccines through this platform to developing countries.”
The global powerhouse has also started exporting its vaccines manufactured by Sinopharm and Sinovac to the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Indonesia, Turkey, Brazil and Chile.
China reported the first case of the infection diagnosed in Wuhan City in November 2019.
Zimbabwe is racing to craft a comprehensive vaccination plan, after the African Union (AU) secured 270 million Covid-19 shots for member states through an Afreximbank facility.
A fortnight ago, Reuters reported that each shot would cost between US$3 and US$10 as the continent gears to contain the deadly pandemic that has claimed over 80 000 lives in Africa.
In Europe, countries have also started inoculating people with vaccines mostly manufactured by AstraZeneca and Johnson&Johnson.
The United States is inoculating people with the Pfizer vaccine.
Almost 1,3% of the world’s population has been infected by Covid-19, and more than 2,1 million people have succumbed to the respiratory disease.