VICE-PRESIDENT Constantino Chiwenga, who is seeking medical attention in China, is expected to meet Chinese authorities and pharmaceutical companies during his stay there in a bid to secure a Sino Covid-19 vaccine and medical supplies.
As of yesterday, Zimbabwe had 11 007 confirmed Covid-19 cases with 9 147 recoveries and 304 deaths. Over 1.5 million people have died of Covid-19 globally.
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Government has urged people to continue exercising caution and comply with Covid-19 protective and preventative guidelines, protocols and measures as well as other restrictions in order to arrest the surge in the pandemic cases.
Chiwenga is also in China for medical treatment. He is undergoing a medical review by doctors who performed two delicate operations on him to clear part of his oesophagus in July last year.
The Vice-President’s oesophagus, a muscular tube which connects the mouth to the stomach, was blocked amid suspicion he could have been poisoned by his political enemies.
Owing to the blockage, Chiwenga was unable to eat, resulting in him becoming emaciated due to illness and lack of food. However, when he returned late last year he looked healthy and fit.
“The Vice-President is certainly in China for check-up, but he is okay. Obviously after a medical procedure of this delicate nature it is important to monitor the patient through regular check-ups. That’s why he is in China,” a senior government official said.
Another official said Chiwenga, who doubles as minister of Health and Child Care, is also lobbying Chinese companies and government officials for the Covid-19 vaccine and medical supplies as well as sundries to help boost the health sector in Zimbabwe.
“There will also be talks around Zimbabwe accessing China’s Covid-19 vaccine, but to do that Zimbabwe must first register,” the Health ministry official said.
Chinese authorities have pledged to support Zimbabwe with regards to acquiring their Covid-19 vaccines.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has registered the Chinese vaccine by state-owned pharmaceutical firm Sinopharm. The UAE said a Chinese coronavirus vaccine tested in the emirates has 86% efficacy, in a statement that provided few details, but marked the first public release of information on the performance of the shot.
The UAE beginning in September conducted a trial of the Sinopharm vaccine involving 31 000 volunteers from 125 nations. Volunteers aged between 18 and 60 years old received two doses of the vaccine over 28 days.
The Sinopharm vaccine has been approved for emergency use in a few countries and the company is still conducting late-stage clinical trials in 10 countries.
Morocco is gearing up for an ambitious Covid-19 vaccination programme, aiming to vaccinate 80% of its adults in an operation starting this month that is relying initially on the Sinopharm vaccine.
Sinopharm says its shot relies on a tested technology, using a killed virus to deliver the vaccine, similar to how polio vaccines are made. Leading Western competitors, such as the shot made by-PFizer and its German partner BioNTech, use newer, but less-proven technology to target the coronavirus’s spike protein using RNA. Russia also has its own vaccine. There are several vaccines being developed in China, some of which are already being administered.
According to the researchers, the Sinovac Biotech vaccine led to a quick immune response during trials with around 700 people.
With the pandemic reported to be almost entirely under control within China, late-stage trials of the four Chinese vaccines are being conducted in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Indonesia and Brazil. – NewsHawks ■