By PETER SICHALI
GOVERNMENT should take due diligence before rolling out the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine Sinopharm, says former Resident Doctors Association of Zambia President Isaac Sakala.
He said Government should only roll out Sinopharm if there are financial constraints, as the vaccine was cheaper.
Dr Sakala said Sinopharm has proved to be ineffective on people above 60 years old, adding that research conducted in other countries has proved that AstraZeneca is more potent.
Zambia is currently administering AstraZeneca vaccine countrywide.
“If Government wants to roll out Sinopharm based on limited financial resources, then we support but if there are enough funds then it should consider other vaccines,” Dr Sakala said.
Dr Sakala said the vaccine has not been widely used and Government should take a cautious approach before rolling Sinopharm out.
“If we want to start rolling out Sinopharm we may need a fewer number of doses so that we can independently observe the potency and effectiveness of this vaccine,” Dr Sakala said.
He said it was important for Government to carryout independent trials before rolling out the Chinese vaccines because no trials had been done in Zambia.
“Trials for this vaccine were done in Arab countries and not much in Africa and therefore it may work for us. Therefore due diligence should be taken before rolling it out,” Dr Sakala said.
He said resident doctors would support rolling out of Sinopharm strictly and purely due to financial restrictions.
Recently, Government said it will consider adding Chinese Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine to its basket of vaccines to ensure adequate doses for the eligible population in Zambia.
This follows World Health Organisation (WHO) approval of the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine and added it to the list of vaccines, which is a prerequisite for a potential COVAX roll-out.
Health Minister, Jonas Chanda, said Sinopharm is in use in over 100 countries with millions of people vaccinated and it is a safe and efficacious vaccine.