Yes, it is undeniable that we are now living in a ‘vaccine apartheid’ period with Global West having had the best chances of acquiring vaccines and hoarding for future use. At this point, despite the surge in numbers countries such as the United Kingdom have already lifted restrictions since they are way ahead in achieving herd immunity.
Well, it does not come as a surprise since they are way richer than the Global South which is in a shock of disaster as the reeling third wave is taking a toll.
As of yesterday (24 July), Zimbabwe recorded 1 591 news cases and 89 deaths which led to a cumulative number of 97 277 officially recorded cases and 3 050 deaths. Infection trends are hitting an all time high on average.
A total of 1 438 3390 had received their first dose of the vaccine and 677 774 have been fully vaccinated. The country is targeting to vaccinate 100 000 people each day for them to reach their 60% herd immunity target on time.
Vaccination uptake has been slow since the beginning of the drive in March this year. However, trends have changed and more people are making a choice at the face of a destructive third wave.
Friends and families that people are familiar with are testing positive and some are dying. In the past days, the words, “Rest in Peace” and “Condolences” were trending on Zimbabwean Twitter, painting gloomy days that have befallen the country.
A recent study based on mortuary data from 207 deaths shows that close to 90% of the people who succumbed to the COVID-19 virus were not vaccinated. The study, titled COVID19 Admissions and Community Deaths by Vaccination Status, also highlighted that over 90% of the people who were admitted in hospital because of the virus were not vaccinated.
The government is ramping up its vaccination efforts by sourcing for more vaccines and setting targets for administering health facilities. However, the health infrastructure in the country has not been at its best, a situation that draws back the vaccination campaign mainly because of capacity reasons.
Reports from Gweru show that council clinics are facing a shortage of workforce and therefore limits the number of people who can be vaccinated in a day.
The government must also find innovative ways to ramp up the vaccination campaigns, like setting up mobile vaccination points on shopping centers, growth points and even set up visiting days for bigger companies to go vaccinate their workforce, by choice of course!
It is a time we come together as a country and encourage each other to practice safety and also consider getting inoculated.
Differences and vaccine politicking must be put aside. Despite their differences with the current administration, recently, the MDC Alliance can be applauded for its online campaign, encouraging people to get their jabs and observe set protocols. MDC-T has also been doing the same.
Vaccination is the only clear path to returning back to normalcy. Probably soon the country will be frequenting stadiums, halls and entertainment places as much as the Global West. Probably our economic activities will have a chance of revival. Maybe our social consciousness will be restored if we achieve herd immunity as a country.