Monday, 28 June 2021

SOUTH AFRICANS TROOP TO ZIM FOR VACCINATIONS

A SOUTH AFRICAN travel agent is reportedly making a killing by bringing South Africans to Zimbabwe for COVID-19 vaccination in a scheme that involves some government officials and a local private hospital.

The Boyz Travel Merchants is charging R8 423 per individual for their clients to travel to Harare to get the jabs from a private hospital, HealthPoint, in Belgravia.

HealthPoint is said to be owned by Peter Annesley. It is alleged that clients travel to Harare with an early morning flight, and then take the return flight to South Africa in the afternoon.

Boyz Travel Merchants representative Jan Engelbrecht Klitzke said they had been running the scheme until last Saturday when they received a notice from HealthPoint that they were taking a break of up to two weeks due to a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines in Zimbabwe.

“It was actually put to a stop today (Friday), we have just received communication from the hospital, they say that vaccines are running dry and they have not received sufficient stock, so they are obviously keeping them for local citizens right now,” he said.

Klitzke said their programme mainly targeted tourists who wanted to be inoculated. A COVID-19 jab at HealthPoint costs US$100 per shot, according to Boyz Travel.

Zimbabwe has been buying Sinovac vaccines at US$10 a shot. An administrator at HealthPoint confirmed that they had been administering the vaccine to foreigners.

Last week, the hospital put out a statement that it was suspending the scheme because of low vaccine stocks.

“Greetings to the HealthPoint community. HealthPoint regrets to be the bearer of bad news, but we have just been advised that the current Sinovac vaccine stocks are running extremely low. Consequently, first ‘shots’ are being suspended as at end of day tomorrow (Saturday June 26, 2021). All remaining stock has to be set aside to ensure availability of second shots to those who are already in the HealthPoint system.

“HealthPoint is eagerly awaiting additional stocks from government, which were scheduled to arrive in the country last week. Please ask whoever needs to be vaccinated to come tomorrow, otherwise HealthPoint foresees, subject to logistics, a seven to 14-day break in the HealthPoint vaccination programme. Any inconvenience is sincerely regretted,” the statement read.

HealthPoint did not respond to questions from NewsDay on how they were accessing COVID-19 vaccines and the number of foreigners that they had inoculated so far.

Zimbabwe does not ban foreigners from being inoculated locally, but President Emmerson Mnangagwa said they had to pay while locals were supposed to get vaccinated for free.

COVID-19 national taskforce chief co-ordinator Agnes Mahomva referred questions to the Finance ministry, which facilitates the importation of vaccines.

The ministry, however, did not respond to questions from NewsDay.

Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association president Johannes Marisa said the country seemed not to have a clear policy position on the vaccination of foreigners.

“As private practitioners, we are not privy to what is happening, although we hear that there are some private health institutions that are administering these vaccines. We don’t even know, unless there is a special arrangement between them and government,” he said.

To date, Zimbabwe has purchased 1,2 million doses of Sinovac and 500 000 Sinopharm vaccines.

Another 500 000 were donated by Sinopharm, while India donated 35 000 Covaxin jabs and Russian miner Alrosa donated 25 000 Sputnik V vaccines.

The country also received another 500 000 doses donated by different companies.  Newsday

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