Zimbabwe is experiencing a shortage of coronavirus vaccines, with several people who turned up at inoculation centres in some parts of the country being turned away.
The vaccine shortage comes at a time when the new Indian variant has hit the country, prompting the government to impose a two-week lockdown on Kwekwe, a city in the Midlands Province.
Several vaccination centres throughout the country, including the main cities Harare and Bulawayo, were experiencing a shortage of the jabs, of either the Chinese Sinopharm, Sinovac or the Indian Covaxin vaccines.
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In Harare, only Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital was administering both the first and second doses on Monday.
Parirenyatwa and Sally Mugabe Central hospitals, as well as Mabvuku Polyclinic, had recorded stock-outs.
COVID-19 taskforce chief coordinator Agnes Mahomva confirmed the shortage, adding that the government was in the process of redistributing vaccines from areas with an oversupply. Said Mahomva:
We are aware of some centres that are saying they have run out of vaccines and the ministry is in the process of redistributing the vaccines from centres with an oversupply of the vaccine as we cannot have some places with vaccines expiring after we have procured more.
Bulawayo City Council’s health services director Edwin Sibanda confirmed that vaccines had run out at some centres. He said:
We are expecting some extra stocks this week as we have been promised to avert the crisis, but we do not know how many.
The second dose is there, meaning that we cannot increase the number of people vaccinated since these doses go in pairs.
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health chairperson Ruth Labode said the shortage was caused by an unequal response to the vaccine campaign.
Zimbabwe launched a countrywide inoculation exercise in February this year, targeting to achieve herd immunity which is about 60% of the population.