Zimbabwe will have access to Chinese COVID-19 vaccine soon, ambassador says

A worker performs a quality check in the packaging facility of Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech, developing an experimental coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, during a government-organized media tour in Beijing, China, September 24, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe will have access to a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine soon, China’s ambassador in Harare said on Tuesday, as Beijing ramps up its availability to developing nations.

Last week, Zimbabwe health officials said Russia and China had approached it about supplying coronavirus vaccines.

COVID infections have escalated in Zimbabwe this year, with about 60% of its 33,548 cases and more than two-thirds of its 1,234 deaths recorded since New Year’s Day.

Only a handful of African nations have begun giving doses as the continent scrambles to obtain supplies for its 1.3 billion people – at a time when many richer nations are racing ahead with mass immunisation campaigns.

“Zimbabwe will be one of the first 14 countries to receive vaccine aid from China very soon,” Guo Shaochun, Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe, wrote on Twitter.

Guo did not elaborate further and did not respond to calls seeking comment.

Other countries in line to receive shots from China include Pakistan, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Mongolia, the Palestinian territories, Belarus, Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea, according to a Chinese foreign ministry statement shared by Guo.

In future, China plans to assist a further 38 developing countries with vaccines, the statement said.

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