Vice President and Health and Child Care Minister Constantino Chiwenga was on Tuesday grilled by Members of Parliament on the efficacy and possible side-effects of the Chinese-donated Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine.
Harare East MP Tendai Biti (MDC Alliance) said it was not clear why the government was choosing Sinopharm when Sinovac is the dominant vaccine used in China.
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Biti also questioned the government silence on the Covax facility, saying the budgeted US$6 million for vaccines was inadequate.
Makoni South MP Misheck Mataranyika (ZANU PF) queried why legislators were not placed on the priority list as frontline workers.
He also called for teachers to be prioritised in the vaccination rollout if schools are to reopen soon.
Kadoma Central MP Muchineripi Chinyanganya (MDC Alliance) questioned whether the vaccines were effective against the new South African variant now dominant in Zimbabwe while Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (MDC-T) questioned the logic behind using different vaccines in the country.
Chiwenga said Sinopharm and Sinovac were approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Zimbabwe will be taking both. He also said the government had already signed for the Covax facility.
On the effectiveness of the Chinese-developed vaccines against the dominant South African coronavirus variant, called N501Y, Chiwenga’s deputy, John Mangwiro said:
These viruses mutate on a daily or weekly basis. There is no country that will say every day they make a vaccine against each mutant.
The vaccines we are getting now — for a vaccine to be on the market, it would have been looked at for at least not less than six to eight months.
The vaccines we are getting now, the studies started last year using a particular virus that they saw at that time.
People will start making vaccines according to the variants and we will be following the virus from behind. There is no way we can say the UK has this variant, now make the vaccine. It is impossible.
You need a year. By the time you finish making it for the variant that is there now, next year you will have 100 more variants.