By Rumbidzai Ngwenya STAFF WRITER

ZIMBABWE got a shot in the arm yesterday in its Covid-19 fight after receiving 10 million vaccination doses from China as the country bids to achieve herd immunity against the virulent respiratory disease.

The donation comprising four million Sinopharm and six million Sinovac doses is an addition to the two million doses that Zimbabwe had also received from the Asian country since February  last year.

Speaking at the occasion of the donation at State House, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the doses would also go a long way towards achieving national herd immunity by vaccinating 10 million people.

“The government applauds China’s strong support and commitment to ensuring the availability of affordable and effective vaccines not only to our country Zimbabwe and the African continent, but to the entire global community. This is highly commendable and represents compassionate leadership, absolute regard for human life, dignity and safety, as well as exemplary global solidarity in the face of the unprecedented health challenges of our time wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Without any delay… Xi Jinping has moved to swiftly implement his landmark pledges at the November 2021 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac) Ministerial Meeting in Senegal to provide one billion Covid-19 vaccines to Africa.

“For us in Zimbabwe, this huge and timely gesture of support comes at a critical phase in our fight against the highly infectious Omicron variant which threatens to erode our impressive gains in the fight against Covid-19, and our strides towards achieving national herd immunity,” Mnangagwa said.

“The donation also followed other several support initiatives from China such as the Chinese grant amounting to US$20 million for the construction of the NatPharm Warehouse, the deployment of a Chinese medical team of specialists, and the constant supply of diagnostic reagents, thermometers and consumables such as latex gloves, among other essential personal protective equipment (PPE),” the president said.

He also rallied citizens to embrace the government’s vaccination programme in order to have all people immunised against the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Mnangagwa commended the bilateral relationship between the two countries, with China having become one of the country’s biggest investors.

He said the donation of Covid-19 vaccines should be viewed in the context of the on-going implementation of various Chinese-funded priority ventures, which include the Hwange 7 and 8 Thermal Power expansion project and the upgrading and expansion of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.

The president said other projects China was involved in included the Net-One (Huawei) Broadband Phase III, the New Parliament Building, the national Pharmaceutical Warehouse (NatPharm); the High Performance Computer Phase Two; and the Kariba South Hydro Power Expansion project.

“As you are aware, the implementation of these priority projects is progressing well in spite of the delays occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic. All these projects bear testimony to the strong bonds of friendship and cooperation that Zimbabwe and China have nurtured since the struggle for Zimbabwe’s Independence.

“As we broaden and deepen these relations, we are cognisant of the scope and huge potential for mutual benefit, growth and development in key areas in which Chinese investments and support would be quite instrumental in stimulating Zimbabwe’s efforts to achieve Vision 2030 of an upper-middle economy.

“Intervention can take but may not be limited to support in the production or financing of several projects such as the manufacture and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, development and access skills and technology to Chinese market of Zimbabwe’s agricultural products, including citrus and horticulture, as well as funding Zimbabwe’s go-green commitments,” he said.