As Zimbabwe and other countries wait for the latest vaccine batch to arrive concern has turned to the cost of acquiring this vaccine. The good news provided by the fact that there is now a vaccine is being tapered by the fear that that obtaining the vaccine will create a debt burden that African countries will struggle to climb out of. With millions of people in each country requiring the vaccine which very few citizens can afford to pay out of pocket, the vaccine debt can run into hundreds of millions depending on the population of each country.

The prices were revealed in a document draft made by the infamous Afrifleximbank which is also financing the acquisition of the vaccine. Although the cost seems steep to people who live on a continent where the majority of people live on less than US$1 per day, this is much less compared to what richer nations are paying in order to get their vaccines. The companies supplying vaccines include Pfizer Inc, Johnson & Johnson, and the Serum Institute of India. The latter is mass producing the vaccine under license from AstraZeneca.

My thinking is that the vaccines market will open up in the coming months when for example Johnson & Johnson and others land on the market. For now, what is critical is access to the market, secure quantities, and start vaccinating.

John Nkengasong, head of Africa’s CDC

Although countries like the US and UK have already started vaccinating their people, Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa are still waiting on their first vaccine batches. This comes as Zimbabwe has already recorded over 1000 deaths and is in the throes of a second devastating wave that probably includes the lethal South African strain.