Are Zimbabweans receiving a third dose of Covid-19 vaccine?

Claim: A resident from Nkulumane who recently received his first vaccination at a local clinic Maqhawe claimed that he was told that he will receive three doses of the Sinovac vaccine.  

Verdict: False.

CITE contacted Bulawayo City Council Health Director, Dr Edwin Sibanda who said the Sinovac is a two dose vaccine.

“That is not true, there is no vaccine which is given three doses, all people are jabbed once or twice,” said Dr Sibanda.  

“Sinovac is 14 days apart whilst others are 28 days apart. There was miscommunication there.”

CITE also confirmed information with Health Desk Experts who revealed that clinical trials are being conducted to ascertain if a third dose will improve immunity against the virus.

“Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine, called CoronaVac, is currently being tested in a Chinese clinical trial to determine whether or not a third shot will help improve immunity against the virus,” said the experts. 

“Participants of the trial get a third shot eight months after their second jab. As of now, we don’t know if receiving a third shot is safe. We also don’t know if it will improve protection against the virus. Because of this, it is not recommended that people receive a third CoronaVac dose.” 

The experts also added that, “Previous clinical trial data from China’s CoronaVac showed that the vaccine’s efficacy ranged from roughly 50 percent to 84 percent against symptomatic Covid-19 infections in several countries.

“The largest study involved 10.5 million people. It evaluated vaccine recipients in Chile at least 14 days after they received their second dose. The study showed that CoronaVac was 67percent effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19. It was 85percent effective at preventing hospitalizations and 80 percent effective at preventing deaths caused by Covid-19,” said the Experts. 

The experts also revealed that Brazilian researchers found that the vaccine has a higher efficacy (62.3%) when the second dose is given 21 or more days after the first injection, rather than 14days between shots (50.7 % efficacy).  

 Background: Zimbabwe though the Medicines Control Authority approved four vaccines in the country, the Sinopharm vaccine from China was the first to be administered in the country. Sinovac was the second to be approved also from China. The country also received 35 000 doses of Covaxin  from India manufactured by the Indian pharmaceutical company, Bharat Biotech and Sputnik V from Russia.   

 The Ministry of Health and Child care said as of 18 May 2021, a total of 591 808 people have been vaccinated against Covid-19.   

“Vaccination update: 8 771 received their first dose today bringing cumulative for the first dose to 600 579 while 8 925 received their second dose bringing cumulative for the second dose to 231 375 (as at 1600hrs),” said the Ministry. 

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