Thursday, 4 February 2021

VACCINES WILL BE FREE, SAYS ED


 PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday said the rolling out of Covid-19 vaccines scientifically ascertained to be safe, will be State funded with all citizens set to access the doses for free as Government is finalising the National Vaccine Deployment Framework.

Government targets to initially immunise at least 60 percent of the population to achieve “population immunity”.

The first phase of immunisation is primarily targeting frontline workers, the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.

There were recent conflicting media reports quoting Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube as having said that some citizens will have to pay for the Covid-19 vaccine, with Government only catering for frontline workers and the most vulnerable members of society.

However, addressing the nation yesterday, President Mnangagwa set the record straight, saying all citizens wishing to be vaccinated, will access the doses for free.

“Our overall National Response Strategy has reached a stage where we can now introduce vaccines as a second front preventive measure. As such, Covid-19 vaccines, which have been scientifically ascertained to be safe, will soon be introduced. These will be State funded and free,” he said.

“The National Vaccine Deployment Framework has also been finalised. The initial objective is to inoculate at least 60 percent of the population to achieve population immunity. The first phase of inoculation of the vaccine will see our hard-working front-line workers, the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions being prioritised.”

The President also commended Chinese President Xi Jimping and his government for donating 200 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine. Zimbabwe was listed as one of the first countries set to receive Covid-19 vaccines from China.

According to the Chinese Embassy, what is now left is for Zimbabwe to collect the Covid-19 vaccine as the Asian economic powerhouse moves to ensure that the drug is accessible globally to all nations.

President Mnangagwa said the kind gesture by China is a true reflection of the cordial relations, strategic partnership and cooperation enjoyed by the two countries.

“Allow me to take this opportunity to express our heartfelt and sincere gratitude to the President of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency, Xi Jinping, the Government and the people of China for their kind donation of 200 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine. We applaud China for taking a leading role in contributing to our national vaccine deployment strategy and for its consistent humane policy of treating Covid-19 vaccines as a global public goods,” he said.

“Over and above this support, the partnership under the African Union-Global Fund COVAX Facility and other bilateral arrangements will see our country secure sufficient vaccines.”

President Mnangagwa said Government has set aside the requisite financial resources for the purchase of vaccines.

He said in line with Government policy of pooling national effort and resources, his administration will also partner the corporate world and other players in the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines and related consumables.

 

 

 

“The recent meeting, I convened with our business sector yielded notable and commendable results. Together in unison and through our actions and our deployment of scientific options and prayer for our beloved nation, there is light at the end of the tunnel; we will win this war against Covid-19. We have not lost hope for a better future, we keep moving on,” said the President.

“As Government we continue to bolster our national resolve, determination and action plan towards arresting the impact and spread of Covid-19 outbreak within our country.”

The President also paid tribute to the frontline health workers for their dedication, sacrifice and commitment in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.

“The war is not yet over. We must renew our vigilance at all times so that we consolidate the current downward transmission trend through masking up, washing hands and practising social distancing. This is also keeping with the exhortations made in the Bible in Exodus 30 v 18-21 which talks of washing of hands and Leviticus 13 verses 4, 5 and 46, which talks on social distancing and Leviticus 13 verses 4 and 5 om quarantine,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said Government commended the generality of citizens for their resilience and continued adherence to Covid-19 lockdown measures and the World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols, saying their positive attitude and public health behaviour has brought about a relatively flattened curve.

“Nevertheless, the Government is aware that vaccines do not provide 100 percent protection or impart immunity. With this in mind, the present WHO public health protocols remain critical in the second phase, and must continue to be adhered to at all times, even after vaccines have been administered,” he said.

The President said Government was aware of the plight of people during the lockdown and will continue to make regular assessments of the situation to achieve the intricate balance between saving lives, livelihoods and the country economy.

“You will recall that following the first case of Covid-19 virus in March 2020, a comprehensive nationwide response strategy, which rested on drastic first front preventive measures, was deployed. This initial strategy included a national lockdown complemented by WHO public health protocols such as the washing of hands with soap under running water, and/or the use of sanitisers, social distancing and mandatory wearing of face masks. The measures were necessary and impactful,” he said.

The President said the more infectious second wave, which has touched the whole world has not spared Zimbabwe.

“For over a month now, a dark cloud hovered over our nation as we painfully endured increased rate of loss of senior comrades in the party and Government, professionals across various sectors, colleagues, friends and our beloved ones due to the pandemic. Thankfully, the spike which shot up during the festive season into January, is beginning to ease,” he said.

“Through unity and the spirit of being each other’s keeper, we survived the pandemic’s first wave with remarkably low infections and fatalities. Sadly, the second wave has been dire and more infectious.”

Amid the prevailing global public health crisis, President Mnangagwa said the scientific community is working hard, with significant breakthroughs being registered.

Globally, there are now a handful of vaccines which are already in use and a few more at different stages of development.

“This has enhanced worldwide prospects for the mitigation of the pandemic, including within our nation,” said President Mnangagwa.  Herald

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