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Zimbabwe first African country to use Indian COVID jabs

The news came after the ambassador Vijay Khanduja, held talks with the country's vice president, who is also health minister, Constantino Chiwenga.

Picture: 123rf.com

HARARE - Zimbabwe has approved the use of an Indian COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin, becoming the first African country to sanction the jab, the Indian embassy in Harare announced on Thursday.

The news came after the ambassador Vijay Khanduja, held talks with the country's vice president, who is also health minister, Constantino Chiwenga.

In a clip posted on the health ministry's YouTube channel, Chiwenga said the Indian government had donated 75,000 doses of Covaxin and that Zimbabwe would buy more.

"We are going to be purchasing vaccines," from India, he said without giving details.

The vaccine, developed by Bharat Biotech, has been approved for use in India even though the late stage data from trials on 25,800 volunteers have not yet been released.

Despite criticism from some Indian doctors and health workers, the country's drug regulator and the company insist it is safe for use.

The embassy said on Twitter that it was "trying to get it to Zimbabwe at an early date".

Two weeks ago Zimbabwe started administering the Chinese vaccine Sinopharm, making it the first country in Southern Africa to use the jabs.

But a nurses' association said some health workers were reluctant to receive the Sinopharm jab citing lack of information on the likely side effects.

The union also expressed concern that the vaccine's protection from the variant that emerged from neighbouring South African, and which constitutes 61% of all infections, was unknown.

COVID-19 has claimed 1,478 lives in Zimbabwe from more than 33,000 diagnosed cases.

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