Zimbabwe President Overrules Finance Minister, Says COVID-19 Vaccine Will Be FreeAfrican News, Featured, Latest News, News, News Around Africa Friday, February 5th, 2021
(African Examiner) – Zimbabwe expects to receive about 200,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine from China, but Health Minister and his Finance counterpart have clashed on the roll-out plan.
The seeming confusion on the roll-out plan has seen Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube and Health Minister Costantino Chiwenga who is also Vice President issuing conflicting statements on whether the vaccine will be accessed free of charge by citizens.
The Finance minister said the vaccine will not be free, courting the ire of critics who accused the Mnangagwa administration of corruption when the nation is bleeding from the pandemic which had killed 1 259 and infected 33 964 as at February 3 in the country.
He said the Covid-19 vaccine will be sold to private citizens, being all other citizens except health workers and the vulnerable.
“Private citizens will have to pay for the vaccine. The vaccine is actually cheaper than some of the personal protective equipment that we are procuring. There will be some payment model so that government can recoup the cost of procurement. Some groups that will be given the vaccine for free saying the health ministry was going to clarify,” said Minister Ncube
It is believed a shot will cost between US$2 and US$7.
However, speaking during a virtual address to commemorate the World Cancer Day on Thursday, Chiwenga poured cold water on his Finance counterpart.
“We welcome and are very grateful to China for their donation of the Covid-19 vaccine to Zimbabwe. The landmark gesture will achieve a milestone in combating the pandemic. Let me also reiterate that the government of Zimbabwe will roll-out Covid-19 vaccines for free to all our citizens who may wish to be vaccinated. The policy is inspired by humane morals that life should not be bought,” he said.
Chiwenga said besides vaccines from China, government is also acquiring more Covid-19 vaccines from partners and friendly nations such as Russia with whom engagements are underway.
Zimbabwe will receive 200,000 doses of the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine from China, adding to those being secured under the AU facility, COVAX as well as well as others procured under separate bilateral agreements.
President Mnangagwa is also on record saying the vaccine rollout will prioritise frontline workers, the elderly and those with underlying conditions, adding that scientific research on the vaccines is underway to ascertain safety.
Zimbabwe has contended that the second wave has been dire and more infectious.
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