BY EVERSON MUSHAVA
ZIMBABWE will likely receive just over one million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in the first quarter under the Covax Facility, a document released by the organisers yesterday has shown.
Reeling from the second wave of the coronavirus, with infections and deaths mounting, the southern African country is expecting three million doses from the global facility meant to facilitate equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines across the globe to arrest the spread of virus that has killed over 2,2 million people globally.
In forecast of what country will receive how much of what COVID-19 vaccine in the first half of this year published by the Covax Facility yesterday, about 240 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, licensed with Serum Institute of India and 96 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine will be distributed under the advance purchase agreement between Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance which put together the Covax Facility, and AstraZeneca.
According to the document, Zimbabwe, with 1 269 deaths and 33 964 infections as of yesterday, will receive 1,151 million doses, while neighbouring South Africa will receive 2,916 million, Zambia (1,428 million), Mozambique (2,424 million), Malawi (1,476 million) while Nigeria, the most populous nation on the continent will receive 16 million doses.
“This indicative distribution is intended to provide interim guidance to facility participants — offering a planning scenario to enable preparations for the final allocation of the number of doses each participant will receive in the first rounds of vaccine distribution,” the Covax Facility said in a statement yesterday.
“It is, therefore, non-binding and may be subject to change, due to the caveats outlined below. Nevertheless, Covax partners believe the publication of this information, which has now been shared with all economies participating in the Covax Facility, marks an important first step in providing governments and public health leaders with the information they need to put in place practical steps for the provision of early doses and a successful national roll-out of vaccines.”
Zimbabwe has been under pressure to disclose how any doses it was going to buy to add to those provided under the Covax scheme. Finance minister Mthuli Ncube last week said the country had mobilised US$100 million for the purchase of vaccines.
“It is important to underscore that the indicative distribution is based on current communication of estimated availability from manufacturers,” part of the statement read. “In this regard, it is likely the distribution may need to be adjusted in light of circumstances that are difficult to anticipate and variables that are constantly evolving.”
On Pfizer, the Covax Facility said: “Given the limited doses, the complexities related to rolling-out a vaccine requiring ultra-cold chain, and to ensure maximum public health impact, a decision was made to limit the number of countries for first deliveries of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in order to enable successful distribution and delivery.
Building on the principles of fairness, transparency and equity for this exceptional early delivery allocation process, all facility participants expressing interest in early deliveries of Pfizer-BioNTech and assessed as ready by the six regional review committees were divided by regional bloc — as per the six WHO regions — and by their participant status (whether self-financing or AMC), participant readiness, whether or not the participant had already initiated vaccination, self-financing participants’ pricing preferences and assessment of risk of healthcare worker exposure were considered for the allocations.
The final supply of these doses will be subject to negotiation and execution of additional agreements required; confirmation of acceptance and enforceability of product handling requirements; confirmation of AMC country readiness; and confirmation of WHO EUL regulatory acceptance by participating countries.