Not exactly the best thing to do on a Sunday, but let’s do some bit of math to start with.
Zimbabwe has received slightly under two million Covid-19 free and purchased vaccine doses since mid-Feb this year. The vaccines comprise a batch of one million doses of Sinovac from China at the end of March, 200,000 Sinopharm units in February and a further 200,000 in mid-March. India gave us 35,000.
By April 8, a cumulative 166,543 people had been vaccinated for the first time and another 27,134 had received their second “jab”—a trending cliché among our excitable journalists. From April 6 to April 8—that means three days—Zimbabwe was getting an average of 14,181 people being vaccinated every day for the first time, and 1,692 for the second time.
What the figures say is that just under 179,000 had been vaccinated by April 8. If you use the daily averages above, it means that, cumulatively, some 209,000 have been vaccinated for the first time, and 32,200 for the second time. The total number of doses used by today, therefore, is 241,200 or thereabouts.
Never mind this attempt at trying to be clever with figures. The point is, about 1.5 million doses of vaccines that Zimbabwe has received have not been used. In other words, the daily uptake of the doses by Zimbabweans remains acutely pathetic.
The question is: Why? Some reasons, most of them hardly good enough to take you out of bed, have been given. Heh, we don’t have enough vaccination centres? Heh, we don’t have enough manpower. Heh, most of the doses have just arrived, so you don’t expect us to use them up all in a day. Heh, this; heh, that.
Nonsense. The bottom line is that the vaccine rollout programme is so poorly managed, it’s actually a wonder we already have that number stepping up to be inoculated. Information is so poorly managed and the Zimbabwean government is at sixes and sevens—if not more—trying to manage, if at all, the suspicions that have arisen from its procurement of vaccines.
I went out to get my first dose recently. Well, my colleagues at work flatly refused, and never bothered to explain why, but you can guess well, well. One of them just said he would resort to home remedies to counter Covid-19. “Home remedies” means a lot of things, but that’s not my bother.
I had to wait for at least three hours for my turn, but that’s not the bother too. After all, the nuns who were trickling in, in batches were just jumping the queue ahead of me and never saw anything wrong about that. When my turn came, the nurse injected me with some substance. Well, I had to ask her twice if she had really injected me, because I didn’t feel a single thing.
It was the first injection my whole life so far when I didn’t feel a single thing. I wondered how injections could be so pleasantly painless. But that’s not a bother again. Feeling no pain can’t be a bother. The point is, nobody ever bothered to explain things to me. They just asked for my name, ID number and address, almost like they wanted to then tell someone who, exactly, I am.
Up to now, I don’t know what vaccine they used on me. I looked at my vaccination card afterward, but the section that talks about the vaccine type was all hieroglyphics. The kind of stuff they put into your records at the hospital when you want medical attention. So, I don’t know whether I got Sinopharm, Sinovac—from China—or Covaxin from India. It could just as well be AstraZeneca, the one that South Africa rejected and said it was selling to us and a few other hapless African countries, I don’t know.
They told me when to come back for my second dose, but I’m now lost as to whether I must return or just resort to “home remedies”. And I’m also confused on what advice to give to those that are considering going for their first “jab”, or the second one for that matter.
I’m praying that they didn’t dose me up with Sinopharm, because fresh information that’s coming out will spook a corpse out of the grave, straight into your bedroom. Have you heard about the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan? That dude was vaccinated with Sinopharm and he started going about with a renewed spring in his step. But then, last month, he fell ill and it was discovered that he was positive on Covid-19.
Where does that happen? How do you get inoculated against Covid-19 and then you fall ill? Well, if it’s because there is a new variant, it shows one new thing about Covid-19 vaccination. That you would have to take all types of doses in sight and then go round the village gulping all sorts of home remedies, including anointing oil and holy water. Kind of ghostly, isn’t it?
But the buck comes back to our authorities. They ordered Sinopharm and what not with hardly any knowledge of what they were doing. Look here. Those suppliers back in China—including the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products that produces Sinopharm and is just about where Covid-19 came from—have not given enough details about their trials. Tao Lina, a Shanghai-based doctor of note, has actually described Sinopharm as the “most unsafe vaccine in the world”. Pity I got to know about that learned opinion after my first “jab”.
The Wuhan institute has a very bad history, as it were. You will remember that, in 2018, it delivered close to half a million substandard vaccine doses of diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough for innocent kids. That doesn’t sound like good news for people who have been “jabbed” with Sinopharm, especially given the cultic secrecy that surrounds the vaccine trial. You know it all well, WHO has already said Sinopharm lacks all sorts of key information.
And it boggles the mind why our authorities saw it prudent to buy the AstraZeneca vaccine that our neighbours in South would love to shove down the sewer drain. If it doesn’t work for South Africa, how can it work for Zimbabwe?
So, it seems my workmate was right in some way. Home remedies. You can’t trust these vaccines. You can’t trust the authorities, never mind the fact that they are busy getting placeboes after ducking vaccination for so long. And you can’t trust the manner in which the rollout is happening. That’s the reason why there is such a poor uptake of the doses. All else is propaganda.
Tawanda Majoni is the national coordinator at Information for Development Trust (IDT) and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org