People wait in a queue to get a shot of the Sinopharm vaccination at Wilkins Hospital in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Wednesday. Zimbabwe is rolling out its COVID-19 inoculation programme and in the first phase is targeting healthcare workers and the elderly.

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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced this week that China had promised the country 100,000 doses of Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines once the vaccine gets the nod from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Created by Sinovac Biotech in Beijing, China, Sinopharm is an inactivated vaccine. It takes the disease-carrying virus or one very similar to it and inactivates or kills it using chemicals, heat or radiation.

According to WHO, this type of vaccine “uses technology that’s been proven to work in people— this is the way the flu and polio vaccines are made—and vaccines can be manufactured on a reasonable scale. However, it requires special laboratory facilities to grow the virus or bacterium safely, can have a relatively long production time, and will likely require two or three doses to be administered.”

It’s hard to say at this point exactly how efficacious the vaccine is but according to Sinovac, the jab has an efficacy rate of 79 per cent, although it has not released its data to the public.

But there are varying reports of its efficacy coming from some of the countries which have approved it for emergency use. There are 27 countries that have given it such approval. These are Argentina, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Guyana, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Laos, Maldives, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, Republic of Serbia, Senegal, Seychelles, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

Much like most vaccines being administered globally, like the Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the Sinopharm jab requires two doses. However, according to reports coming out of the United Arab Emirates, there may need to be a third dose. This after it was noticed that in a small number of people, it didn’t have the desired immune response.

According to global reports, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has an efficacy rate of around 80 per cent, the Moderna vaccine around 94.1 per cent and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine around 95 per cent.

According to a WHO guidance document published on Tuesday, a decision is expected to be made on Sinopharm’s approval is expected “earliest April.”