HomeLocalConspiracy theories might derail Covid-19 vaccination programme

Conspiracy theories might derail Covid-19 vaccination programme

BY LORRAINE MUROMO

Government has announced that it is in the process of crafting policies regarding the rolling out of Covid-19 vaccines to fight the spread of the coronavirus that has been wreaking havoc across the globe.

This comes at a time Britain has offered to vaccinate 20% of the country’s population against the Covid-19 pandemic, starting with the most vulnerable three million people in the country. British ambassador to Zimbabwe Melanie Robinson disclosed this during a courtesy call on Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga recently.

Chiwenga on Friday said government was being cautious in its vaccination policy as experts call on government to inoculate at least 10 million people so as to create a buffer of continued infection.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is also pushing that at least 20% in every participating country be vaccinated by the end of 2021.

However, like in many countries, the Zimbabwean population has been sceptical about the vaccination following a lot of social media reports of severe side effects on already vaccinated populations.

Some conspiracy theories speak of perceived defects of the vaccines while others alleged the vaccination could be a population control tool on Africans.

On Friday, the Norwegian Medicines Agency said about 23 people died in Norway within days of receiving their first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, with 13 of those deaths all nursing home patients, apparently related to the side effects of the shots.

Norway cited fever and nausea as most common reactions to the vaccine.

The Standard went out onto the streets to hear what the people say about the vaccines. It appears a good number of people fear that the Covid -19 vaccines could be coming with sinister motives and many said they would not be at the front of the queue for the vaccination.

Isaac Pasipanodya (43) of Chitungwiza, who is a father of three and breadwinner of an extended family, was out on the streets, fending for his family despite the dangers of Covid-19 and the lockdown regulations. Pasipanodya is one of the people who say he is not too keen to take the vaccination.

He is suspicious about the vaccine, but he has the safety of his family to think of and as such says he would grudgingly consider taking it.

Pasipanodya said he did not have a choice since his family was exposed because he was always on the street looking for survival.

“This virus has really brought death on our doorsteps this time around and if we do not try and seek remedy, we are in trouble. Whether I trust it or not, I have to try this vaccine if it means it is the solution to us staying alive to fend for our children,” he said.

Dadisa Rafemoyo, a young student studying towards a degree in Social Work with the University of Zimbabwe, said: “Personally, I wouldn’t go for the vaccine because honestly I do not trust it. What guarantees my safety if the vaccine goes wrong? Has it been tested and proven?”

Nellie Nakohore added: “What if the rumours are true that the West is planning to wipe us all out through this vaccine, do you honestly think I would endanger myself and be part and parcel of the statistics?”

Mpilo Central Hospital acting CEO Solwayo Ngwenya has, however, urged Zimbabweans not to be scared of the vaccine.

“If vaccines were rolled out, there is a likelihood that they will flatten the curve together with the measures we are already taking — the lockdowns, social distancing, wearing of masks and so forth. Our only problem is that the virus may mutate and change and then vaccines may not be appropriate because the virus will outmanouevour them,” Ngwenya said.

“The best thing is to get 67-70% of the population vaccinated. In Zimbabwean terms it means about 10 million people out of the 15 million must be vaccinated. The vaccinated individuals will act as a buffer against the unvaccinated people.”

Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association president Johannes Marisa said at this point in time, as a country, all people could do was hope for the best.

“Vaccines are generally good, usually for outbreaks. We need vaccines or herd immunity where at least if 70% of the people are attacked by an infection we end up developing immunity to that disease,” said Marisa.

“This is a new vaccine coming on a novel virus which has not been in existence and we hope for the best. The efficacy of it cannot be measured at the moment because we do not have a lot of information.”

Marisa said it was not known how people were going to react to the vaccine and how effective it is when administered.

“But if this vaccine is going to work it means for sure we have found a solution,” he said. “In as much as we want to contain this pandemic considering that only 90 million have been infected so far, it means a vaccine would probably try to stop the transmission.”

Zimbabwe Senior Hospital Doctors’ Association president Shingai Nyaguse said the medical field could not adequately comment as there were many vaccines on trial waiting for verification.

“There are many vaccines on trial. We can only really comment when we know the particular vaccine government decides to buy,” she said

“We hope our regulators like the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe will be up to the task of verifying the vaccines in conjunction with the regional bodies like Africa CDC (Centres for Disease Control) and the East, Central and Southern African Health Community.”

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