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Zimbabwe Says 'Don't Panic' as Some Centres Run Out of COVID-19 Vaccines

A health official at Wilkins Hospital in Harare, Zimbabwe, prepares to inoculate with Sinopharm vaccine, March 11, 2021. (Columbus Mavhunga/VOA)

(Reuters) Zimbabwe's government said on Friday citizens should not panic because it had enough COVID-19 vaccines for those needing a second shot after some centres ran out of doses this week and turned people away.

The southern African nation, which aims to vaccinate 10 million people by the end of the year, has to date received just over 1.735 million doses from Sinopharm, Sinovac and Covaxin.

Some 684,164 people have received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine while another 364,240 got their second shot.

Agnes Mahomva, the national coordinator on government's response to COVID-19, told state broadcaster ZBC that just over a million doses had been used so far and that those needing second shots would get them.

Mahomva said centres that were vaccinating faster than others, especially in Harare and second biggest city Bulawayo, had run out vaccines.

"So what the ministry is doing is redistributing vaccines," Mahomva said. "The message that I want to bring out to the public is 'please don't panic'."

"The doses are there, they are not in the large numbers that we would like but then that is the challenge that the whole world is facing," said Mahomva.

She said Zimbabwe would take another shipment of vaccines "any minute now" without saying from where.

Zimbabwe has so far shunned Western vaccines, preferring to use those from China, India and Russia.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube in April promised to procure 1 million doses a month but this has not yet happened.