Zimbabwe rolled out its COVID-19 vaccine program Thursday, with health workers getting the first of 200,000 Sinopharm vaccines donated by China.
Officials applauded after Zimbabwe's vice president, Constantino Chiwenga, received his vaccine. Zimbabwe's free and voluntary vaccination program aims to reach 10 million citizens and achieve herd immunity.
Chiwenga, who doubles as the country's health minister, said Zimbabwe was winning its war against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
"The marked decline in new cases of coronavirus is vividly marking the end of the second wave of the pandemic. Despite the decline, the government of Zimbabwe adopted a second line to augment preventive measures to combat COVID-19. The second layer of defense is the procurement and rollout of COVID-19 vaccines," he said.
"My ministry conducted all scientific processes to ascertain the efficacy of Sinopharm vaccine, which was confirmed to be 79 percent. My presence here today, with some ministry of health officials — to exhibit the government confidence in the Sinopharm vaccine.”
Some citizens and rights group question the efficacy of the vaccine and are calling on the government to conduct clinical trials before offering it to the public.
On Wednesday, the group Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said it would take the government to court if authorities do not conduct clinical trials of the Sinopharm vaccine.
Just outside where Chiwenga was vaccinated, 42-year-old Quinton Hassen said he doesn't want to hear their legal arguments.
"I want to be vaccinated. It's the way forward. Without being vaccinated, we're going to go nowhere in this world here," Hassen said. "It's very important to be vaccinated and not to listen to rumous about this vaccine. It is not to kill, but to protect you.”
Chiwenga said Thursday that more vaccines would come, for all Zimbabweans willing to be inoculated.