ZIMBABWE has turned down its allocation of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine, citing storage constraints and scepticism over possible side effects despite being under the threat of a third wave and facing a harsh winter.
The southern African nation has set a long-shot target of vaccinating 10 million people by the end of the year to achieve 60% herd immunity, but has run out of vaccines.
Many countries in the West stopped the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in April to investigate links to cases of a very rare, potentially life-threatening condition involving blood clots and low platelet counts.
A similar condition has also been linked to the AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Some countries, however, have resumed the usage of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after concluding that the vaccine’s benefits outweighed the potential risks.
Zimbabwe, however, said it was not ready to receive the vaccine.
“Government notes that there is an allocation of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due for August. I wish to advise that government is not yet ready to participate in August allocations as measures are still being put in place to establish the cold chain management framework for the vaccine,” Finance ministry secretary George Guvamatanga said in a letter addressed to African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank)’s regional chief operations officer Humphrey Nwago.