580 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 29th of October 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 132 926 after 46 new cases all local cases, were recorded. The highest case tally was recorded in Manicaland with 33 cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate as at 15:00hrs on 28 October 2021 remained at 30 hospitalised cases: 8 New Admissions, 11 Asymptomatic cases, 17 mild-to-moderate cases, 2 severe cases and 0 cases in Intensive Care Units. A total of 8 263 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 3 302 145. A total of 8 844 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 2 583 680. Active cases went up to 643. The total number of recoveries went up to 127 608 increasing by 12 recoveries. The recovery rate remains at 96%. The death toll remained at 4 675, as there was no new death recorded. We note the recording of ZERO persons in intensive care units due to COVID-19 marking the second occurrence of the same in one week. Accordingly, we continue to call for increased adherence to mask wearing, social distancing and frequent hand-sanitisation to stem the tide of the pandemic.
Critical Emerging Issue
Importance of Tracking, Monitoring and Reporting COVID-19 Variants
We continue to call for persistency and consistency in tracking, monitoring and sharing with the public the results of the genomic sequencing to trace COVID-19 variants of interest and variants of concern nationally.
We note that, as of the 29th of October 2021, the population of Zimbabwe that had received one dose of the vaccine was at 22.3% while of the population had received two doses was at 17.5%. We aware that these statistics may encourage relaxation of COVID-19 variant monitoring. Furthermore, despite cases indicating a low number of international COVID-19 transmissions, we remain alive to the potential infection control implications of increased relaxation of COVID-19 regulations, increased socio-economic activities and increased traffic at our borders. The vigilance in regards to the potential variants of interest and variants of concern is therefore a critical element in protecting the gains made thus far in the COVID-19 response.
Furthermore, we amplify reports from the local scientific community calling for the need to support research in genomic surveillance of COVID-19 positive cases among fully vaccinated individuals to determine the effectiveness against variants of interests and variants of concern. This monitoring is necessary to ensure tracking of vaccine efficacy in the face of the variants which can indeed nullify the gains of vaccines presently developed.
We further amplify grave concerns on emerging evidence that individuals with weakened immune systems due to HIV/AIDS may be prone to prolonged infection and increased likelihood of COVID-19 mutations. We highlight that this is a critical element of ensuring public health support to Zimbabwe a country with the HIV prevalence rate of 12.9%.
- We recommend increased support for local research into genomic surveillance of COVID-19 positive cases amongst fully vaccinated individuals, and amongst persons living with HIV.
- We urge wide publication of the results of COVID-19 variant tracking.
US Acceptance of Persons vaccinated with Vaccines manufactured in the global South
We commend the decision of the Government of the United States of America to permit into the USA, from the 8th of November 2021, persons vaccinated with any WHO approved vaccines. This approval includes vaccines manufactured and or developed in the global south. This effectively means that persons who have received the Chinese manufactured and developed vaccines such as Sinopharm and SinoVac as the majority of the vaccinated population in Zimbabwe will now be eligible to enter the USA on the same basis as those vaccinated with the Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech and or the single dose Janssen vaccines. We commend this shift in policy as a progressive step towards vaccine equity particularly in light of the fact that globally, 50 countries with vaccination rates below 10%, at this time, are predominately countries within Sub-Saharan Africa simply due to gross vaccine inequity that has marred the global response to the pandemic. We continue to critique the positions adopted by the majority of EU nations which only consider EU approved vaccines as deliberately excluding WHO approved vaccines, meaning that Russian and Chinese manufactured vaccines are not fully recognised. Accordingly, we continue to note that in the EU persons vaccinated with those vaccines are being excluded from full participation in socio-economic activities in their respective EU countries.
- We call upon the EU to ensure that the entire block follows the examples set by The Netherlands, Spain, Finland, Hungary and Switzerland.
- We strongly object to the continued inequity in the lack of recognition of vaccines that have been approved by the WHO and are part of the vaccine mix of countries in the global south and are manufactured by China.
- We continue to call for full recognition of WHO approved vaccines globally.
- We call for countries in the global north such as the UK, to take practical steps to demonstrate their support for vaccine equity by directly addressing inclusion of vaccines manufactured and administered in the global south.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe