Produced by China’s state-run Sinopharm, the 200,000 vaccine doses have been offered as a donation to Zimbabwe.
Expected to arrive in Zimbabwe on Monday, this will be the first batch of vaccines to reach the country which has reported just over 35,000 cases and around 1,400 deaths since the outbreak began. On Sunday, an Air Zimbabwe plane landed in China to pick up the consignment. A footage of the vaccines being loaded onto the Boeing plane was tweeted by the Chinese embassy this morning. Health workers, border officials and funeral parlour workers are expected to be among the first to receive the jabs. One of the first African countries to use the Chinese-made vaccine, Zimbabwe is also expected to purchase an additional 600,000 doses of the same vaccines for delivery in March.
Zimbabwe is not the only African country on the receiving end of China’s goodwill. The Asian powerhouse is also expected to donate thousands of vaccines to Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea. Despite being cash-strapped, the Zimbabwean government has set aside $100-million for purchasing vaccines to combat the virus, and has vowed to provide jabs at no cost to its citizens. It also expects additional doses from India, the African Union and the Covax scheme as it looks to inoculate 10 million of its 14 million citizens - the country’s biggest-ever inoculation programme. The Russian diamond producer Alrosa PJSC has also promised to donate an unspecified amount of Sputnik V vaccines to support the country’s efforts.