Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube was Monday denied that Zimbabwe preferred Chinese COVID-19 vaccines over others.
Ncube appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget and Finance to speak on transparency and accountability in the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines since the pandemic hit the country in 2020.
Dzivarasekwa MP Edwin Mushoriwa demanded to know why Ncube favoured Chinese vaccines ahead of others and why they did not go through a bidding process according to procurement regulations.
Ncube denied any favouritism for the Asian countries from which Zimbabwe procured vaccines. He said:
By the time more vaccines were approved, we had already signed contracts with the Chinese companies, but we would have loved to go through a bidding process for the procurement had there been a choice.
We took the Chinese route because they were offering competitive prices.
He said China donated over 12 million doses, a combination of Chinese Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines, but 10 million were yet to be delivered.
The Finance minister said:
a). US$132 536 000 was used in the procurement of vaccines and syringes from China, India and Russia,
b). Transport costs amounted to US$8.3 million,
c). Total cost US$140.91 million.
Ncube, however, failed to explain the huge amount of money used in the procurement of vaccines given that the country had over 12 million donated doses and an ailing health system in which part of the money could be used.
As of April 1 2022, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had approved 10 vaccines for use. These include:
v). Ad26.COV2.s (Janssen),
vi). Vaxzevria (Oxford/AstraZeneca)
vii). Covishield (Oxford AstraZeneca formulation),
ix). Covilo (Sinopharm) and
x). Coronavac (Sinovac).
In July last year, Zimbabwe approved the use of the single-shot American Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use but refused to accept a donation of the vaccine from the United States.
As of Sunday, April 3, the country had over 5.5 million people vaccinated against the COVID-19 pandemic. The targeted population to achieve herd immunity is 10 million.
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