Zimbabwe Snubs Cheaper Donor Funded COVID-19 Vaccines
11 September 2021
The Zimbabwean government has inexplicably been purchasing expensive Chinese vaccines while overlooking doses supplied at cheaper prices under the Gavi Alliance platform meant to benefit developing countries.
The Gavi Alliance, formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, is a global health partnership of public and private sector organisations dedicated to “immunisation for all”.
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The Zimbabwe Independent reported sources this week as saying the government has passed the opportunity to access cheap donor-funded vaccines under the Gavi Alliance facility but opted to spend US$100 million to directly purchase costly Chinese-made jabs.
Zimbabwe subscribed to the Gavi platform in February this year but is yet to meet the state of “readiness” required for signed-up members to start accessing the subsidised medicine.
The Gavi-administered programme, which is rolling out the Covax facility, is being funded by the World Bank, Unicef, World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among other stakeholders.
The majority of the 91 low-income economies which subscribed for the Covax facility, superintended by Gavi, have already started taking delivery of COVID-19 vaccines while Zimbabwe has continued to import the medicines at a steep cost.
Reports indicate that Chinese-made Sinopharm from the Asian country costs US$75 per dose while the same medication is being sold for US$25 under the Gavi facility.
A Gavi official identified as Laura told the Zimbabwe Independent this week via e-mail responses that Zimbabwe is yet to attain the state of “readiness”, a pre-requisite for batches of vaccines to be disbursed. The official said:
Alongside our partners, Unicef and WHO, we are working with the government to ensure Zimbabwe is ready to receive the vaccines.
For specifics on preparations, it is best to address your question on storage to the Government of Zimbabwe.
In February 2021, Zimbabwe joined 19 other low-income economies and became eligible for financial support through the Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
Zimbabwe’s vaccination drive has mostly been driven through Sinopharm and Sinovac shots donated by or bought in, China.
Only recently, the government announced that the Western-made Johnson & Johnson vaccine would be administered locally.