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Zimbabwe Expects 2.5 Million Chinese COVID-19 Vaccines by Month End

Zimbabwe vice president and Minister of Health Constantino Chiwenga holds up his vaccination certificate after receiving the first shot of Sinopharm

HARARE, June 22 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe expects to receive 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccines from China by the end of this month as it seeks to boost its vaccination drive after several centres ran out of doses, which caused panic, the information minister said on Tuesday.

The southern African nation has faced shortages of vaccines at major centres in Harare and Bulawayo, forcing authorities to prioritise inoculating those seeking second doses.

"Arrangements are currently in progress to procure 2 million doses of vaccines from China. These are expected in the country by end of month. Furthermore 500,000 doses of vaccines are expected to be delivered this Saturday," Monica Mutsvangwa said during a post-Cabinet media briefing.

Zimbabwe has only authorised China's Sinovac and Sinopharm, Russia's Sputnik V and India's Covaxin doses for emergency use.

Mutsvangwa said reopening of schools, which was set for June 28, would be delayed by two weeks after weekly infections doubled from last week.

Zimbabwe has reported 44,306 cases and 1,709 deaths since the outbreak last year.

Some 725,582 people, out of a target of 10 million, have received a first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; editing by Jonathan Oatis