Zimbabwe is seeing a boost in vaccine tourism as foreign nationals have started arriving in the country to get vaccinated against COVID-19, for a fee.
This comes after President Emmerson Mnangagwa last month said foreigners could get the jab in Zimbabwe if they were willing to pay. He said then:
Zimbabweans will get the vaccine for free, but foreigners who come here will receive the vaccine at a cost. This is a human element, we cannot deny anybody the vaccine, but if you are not Zimbabwean we will give you the vaccine at a cost.
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The government has so far authorised the use of four COVID-19 vaccines: China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines, Russia’s Sputnik V and Covaxin from India.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday listed Sinopharm for emergency use, giving the green light for this vaccine to be rolled out globally.
The Sinopharm vaccine is produced by Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products Co Ltd, a subsidiary of China National Biotec Group (CNBG).
Meanwhile, Grant Evans, a local businessman in Zimbabwe, decided to bring over his extended South African family who are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in the neighbouring country. Said Evans:
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is slow in SA, and my extended family in Cape Town needed to get vaccinated. We made a decision to bring them to Zimbabwe to get vaccinated.
The private clinics in Zimbabwe are charging foreign nationals $70 for both jabs, we are happy to pay and it sounds reasonable.
Below are some posts gleaned by TimesLive from Twitter on the idea of vaccine tourism in Zimbabwe:
@sharonmufaro posted: “Today I came across some tourists who came to Zimbabwe specifically to get vaccinated and they are happy to pay for the jab. To say I was amazed is an understatement.”
@Thatorale commented: “Limpopo and Zim are not that far apart. This sounds like a plan.”
@XNdimba tweeted: “Credit where it’s due. You guys clearly got this right. It’s highly politicised in SA — it’s an opposition party playground. They push conspiracies, calling them ‘ideology’.”