A donation that follows hot on the heels of a pledge by China to give a further 600 million doses of vaccines to Africa.
Handing over the doses to the Zimbabwean government at Harare’s international airport, Guo Shaochun, China’s ambassador, said the delivery underscored China’s record in turning commitments into tangible outcomes. “China always honors its promises and walks the talk,” he said.
Guo said Africa faces a huge immunization gap with other parts of the world, pointing out that its overall vaccination rate is less than a fifth of the global average.
The latest donation follows a pledge made by China at the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation to provide another 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to Africa. The sum includes 600 million doses as donation and 400 million doses to be provided through such means as joint production by Chinese companies and relevant African countries.
Constantine Chiwenga, Zimbabwe’s vice-president and health minister, praised China for the donation, saying it will increase the country’s confidence and determination to fight the pandemic.
Chiwenga said Zimbabwe and China enjoy excellent relations, as characterized by comprehensive strategic cooperation in many sectors of the economy.
As of Sunday, slightly over 4 million people out of a population of about 15 million had received at least one vaccine dose, while about 3 million had received both required shots, according to the Health Ministry. More than 95 percent of the doses administered were from China.
Zimbabwe has reported a spike in cases following the detection of the Omicron variant. As of Sunday, the country had reported 192,796 infections and more than 4,000 deaths.
China had provided more than 180 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 53 African countries and the African Union Commission before the pledge of an additional 1 billion doses.
Fulfilling a promise to make COVID-19 vaccines a global public good, China has provided vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organizations, making it the biggest provider of the vaccines globally, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.