The announcement by the government that it had received 200 000 doses of Sinopharm in donation from China, was met with mixed feelings.
People in Zimbabwe have always had bad feelings about things that come from China, owing to substandard products that are usually found in Chinese shops in the country.
One way or another every ordinary Zimbabwe has had a disappointment from the goods they bought from Chinese owned shops.
This disappointment has created a mentality in many Zimbabweans that goods from the Asian giant are generally substandard.
Therefore news of donated COVID-19 vaccine from China was judged from the same mentality.
Various theories have been developed, some with unsubstantiated information and have circulated on social media ahead of the arrival of the vaccine.
Some Zimbabweans are of the view that China has sinister intentions. Some also say they want to experiment with Zimbabweans.
What made the social media theories to carry weight was the decision by the government to delay in releasing information.
People had wanted to know if the government had tested the vaccines for safety and effectiveness before rolling out. The government was found wanting and the social media provided answers.
There were calls for the roll-out plan to be published, but again the government delayed. Social media came up with its own theories.
However, the government has finally come out to play fire-fighting thanks to questions in the National Assembly by legislators.
Deputy Minister of Health John Mangwiro was given the task by the Vice President Constantino Chiwenga who doubles as Minister of Health.
Mangwiro explained that vaccines go through various studies and before acquiring them, they request those studies.
Below is what he said about the processes involved when the government want to choose a vaccine.
Deputy Minister John Mangwiro: What we will also look at any vaccine that we are likely to take should go through phases of studying. Phase 1, they have looked at 100 people to be given the vaccine and they see the result that it produces the antibody; it does not harm people.
They go to phase 2 where they give a thousand people; they look at it again and do phase 3.This is what happens before we accept any vaccine in our country. They have to give us the phase 1, clinical records and studies and we see if it is genuine. Then phases 2 and 3, we do the same.
We also check to see if they are registered with World Health Organisation and other organisations for peer review to make sure we are dealing with a genuine product.
If you see a vaccine that is here, that has happened. Our Medicines Control Authority gets dossiers of the vaccine as we require. Sinopharm has gone through that. Sinovac and Sinopharm are two Chinese manufacturers. Sinopharm is one of the companies and is now being used in China. Sinovac produces larger quantities and it is also registered.
We are in the process of registering Sinovac right now. They have given us phase 1, phase 2 and we are waiting for documents for the next phase and they will be registered shortly.
When it comes to vaccines, those people who will have gotten Sinopharm vaccine requires two vaccination times. If you get vaccinated on the 8thFebruary with the Sinopharm vaccine, we will keep your second dose for the next 28 days of the sinopharm vaccine.
If we give you Sinovac vaccine we will also keep the dose for you for the next phase. There is also the Sputnik victory from Russia, we will also go through the phases and everything.
Covax is a group of vaccines including Sinopharm, Sinovac, Sputnik, Modena, AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer and others. So as a country, we will choose from those and say can we look after it, is our infrastructure compatible with what this vaccine is all about, how long are we going to do it?
When we negotiate prices, all those things we look at them but we will not negotiate prices for anything that is less. We will take the best for our people. Vaccines are there and we will choose what is best for our country and we will look at literature and make sure things are okay.
For the vaccines, I have tried my best and if there is anyone with a question I will still answer.