628 days of the COVID-19 Lockdown, and as of 16th of December 2021, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported that, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases had increased to 183 304 after 4 247 new cases all local cases, were recorded. The highest case tally was recorded in Harare with 929 cases. We note that the Hospitalisation rate data as at 15:00hrs on 15 December 2021, 394 hospitalised cases: 76 New Admissions, 31 Asymptomatic cases, 294 mild-to-moderate cases, 42 severe cases and 3 case in Intensive Care Units. A total of 23 267 people received their 1st doses of vaccine. The cumulative number of the 1st dose vaccinated now stands at 4 023 013. A total of 21 807 recipients received their second dose bringing the cumulative number of 2nd dose recipients to 3 035 192. Active cases went up to 49 396. The total number of recoveries went up to 132 137 increasing by 1 217 recoveries. The recovery rate drops to 71%. The death toll went up to 4 771 after 12 new deaths were recorded.
Critical Emerging Issue
Harare Province Infections and Vaccinations
We are concerned when consideration is given to the low vaccination rate of Harare province at 40% of 1st doses of the vaccine which is not progressive in stemming the spread of infections. We continue to decry the limited access to vaccination in the Metropolitan province which appears to be in direct contrast with the Bulawayo Metropolitan province which is currently at 57.6 1st dose vaccination.
- We therefore call for a concrete plan of action to expand vaccination in Harare Province urgently.
- We call for specific provision of vaccination centres in residential areas/housing areas under development in order to ensure that under-serviced communities are not shut out of vaccination points.
- We reiterate our calls for the expansion of vaccination centres to shopping centres/malls and markets in the in the province.
- We recommend that vaccination centres be established at major transport inter-changes in and around the city.
Vaccine Mix Implications on Omicron Driven COVID-19 Surge
We highlight, once more issues pertaining to the limited vaccine mix available to Zimbabwean as we endure the 4th wave and the race to vaccinate communities. Whilst we fully appreciate the factors driving the position of Government on procurement of vaccines from China predominately both the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines; we seek to highlight public apprehensions in regards the concerns being raised regarding the vaccine profile of the nation in the face of Omicron driven infections.
We highlight first the fact that emerging reports from Hong Kong University supported by the latest WHO vaccine guidelines clearly note that the Omicron variant has significant chances of causing infection due to its increased transmissibility from the wild variant and those vaccinated with two doses of the either Sinovac or Sinopharm vaccines may have inadequate protection from both infection or reinfection. We note that Zimbabwe does not have a “zero case” policy on opening up the economy regarding infection control which is key difference Between China and Zimbabwe who have similar vaccine mix in the population. This places Zimbabwe at a greater risk of rampant infections especially in the face of measures that are not strongly supported by both enforcement and practicalities of infection control.
The guidelines on third vaccine shots and vaccine diversity place increased pressure on Zimbabwe to consider a position on supporting the already vaccinated portion of the population with boosters, providing support in the form of expanded vaccine mix and up-scaling vaccination efforts.
- We call on Government to announce a clear position on the vaccination mix going forward.
- We call on the Government to support expanded vaccination efforts during the festive season by taking the vaccine to the communities’ people in real terms.
- We call for vaccine mix diversity.
Source: Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe