A senior government official said Zimbabwe is not ready to receive the shots due to challenges in the country’s cold chain infrastructure.
Moreover, the government said experts were still assessing the side effects of the Johnson and Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine.
This was revealed in a letter to Regional Chief Operations at the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) Regional Office in Zimbabwe, Humphrey Nwugo on 2 June 2021 by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, George Guvamatanga. He wrote:
The Government of Zimbabwe notes that there is an allocation of the Johnson and Johnson vaccines due for August 2021.
However, I wish to advise that the Government of Zimbabwe is not yet ready to participate in the August allocation as measures are still being put in place to establish the old chain management framework for the vaccines, as well as on the management of the anticipated adverse effects of the vaccines following inoculation.
Therefore we will advise of our readiness to receive the vaccines once our internal processes have been concluded, hopefully in time for the next allocation.
The letter was copied to Vice President, the Minister of Health and Child Care – Constantino Chiwenga, Finance Minister – Professor Mthuli Ncube, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet – Dr Misheck Sibanda, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care – Air Commodore – Dr Jasper Chimedza and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor – Dr John Mangudya.
Johnson and Johnson’s vaccines were acquired through a COVID-19 vaccine procurement Agreement on March 28, 2021, by all African Union (AU) member states, through the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT).
Zimbabwe has so far authorised the use of four Covid-19 vaccines: Russia’s Sputnik V, Covaxin from India and China’s Sinopharm, Sinovac vaccines.