Zimbabwe: Act On Low Efficacy of Chinese Vaccines, Govt Urged

Africa needs timely access to safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines (file image).
14 April 2021

Movement of Democratic Change(MDC) Alliance has questioned the government's reluctance to act on the low efficacy of the Chinese manufactured COVID-19 vaccines saying continued use of Sinopharm jabs would be a disaster and a total waste of tax payer's money.

In a statement, MDC Alliance Secretary for Health and Child Care, Dr Henry Madzorera said countries like South Africa are acting swiftly on vaccines as they recently switched from Astra Zeneca vaccine to Johnson and Johnson on the basis of low efficacy and Johnson and Johnson was stopped yesterday.

"We watched the Republic of South Africa switching from Astra Zeneca vaccine to Johnson and Johnson on the basis of low efficacy. We also saw most of Europe halting, albeit temporarily, the use of the Astra Zeneca vaccine on the basis of perceived adverse events following immunization. This is sound pharmaco-vigilance from governments that have nothing to hide from citizens. Initial reports said Sinopharm vaccine had an efficacy of roughly 79-86%. Now the owners of the vaccine say efficacy is lower than that. What should Zimbabwe do?"

Recently, a Chinese official is said to have announced that the Sinopharm vaccine has lower efficacy than originally suggested in media reports.

Dr Madzorera urged government to make an urgent decision based on data to continue using the two Chinese vaccines or to switch to something else like what other governments are doing.

"We have already vaccinated over 205 275 people since 18th February. What preliminary results do we have on safety and efficacy? We now know that 95% of our covid19 is the South African variant. Could efficacy here be even lower than in China? Only live data collected here can inform us correctly for decision and action.

"Starting to vaccinate the population with whatever vaccine available was a good thing. Continuing to use a vaccine with proven low efficacy would be a disaster and a total waste of tax payer's money. But we must measure the efficacy in our own population. We note curiously that the Sinopharm/Sinovac vaccines are still not on the WHO list of approved vaccines. Decision has once again been postponed to end of April," he added.

Dr Madzorera adviced the government to be transparent in all matters pertaining to procurement decisions, safety and efficacy of the vaccines.

"All covid19 vaccines are on trial. The people must report their experiences and the population must be kept informed. We have already requested weekly reports on adverse events following immunization in the SitRep. That way we can help the Chinese in their vaccine development process," said Dr Madzorera.

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