Zimbabwe is seeing a boost in vaccine tourism as foreign nationals have started arriving in the country to get vaccinated against Covid-19, for a fee.
With several African countries still facing challenges with slow Covid-19 vaccine rollouts, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said last month that visitors could get the jab in Zimbabwe if they were willing to pay.
“Zimbabweans will get the vaccine for free, but for foreigners who come here, they will receive the vaccine at a cost. This is a human element, we cannot deny anybody the vaccine, but if you are not Zimbabwean we will give you the vaccine at a cost,” Mnangagwa said.
Zimbabwe has so far authorised the use of four Covid-19 vaccines: China's Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines, Russia's Sputnik V and Covaxin from India.
Sinopharm and Sinovac’s vaccines account for the bulk of shots given in Zimbabwe, which has so far inoculated 478,174 people.
Grant Evans, a local businessman in Zimbabwe, decided to bring over his extended SA family who are not yet eligible for Covid-19 vaccine in SA.
“The Covid-19 vaccine rollout is slow in SA, and my extended family in Cape Town needed to get vaccinated. We made a decision to bring them to Zimbabwe to get vaccinated. The private clinics in Zimbabwe are charging foreign nationals $70 for both jabs, we are happy to pay and it sounds reasonable,” said Evans.
The idea of vaccine tourism in Zimbabwe spiked a debate on social media with many people responding to a tweet to come to Zimbabwe to get inoculated.
@sharonmufaro posted: “Today I came across some tourists who came to Zimbabwe specifically to get vaccinated and they are happy to pay for the jab. To say I was amazed is an understatement.”
@Thatorale commented: “Limpopo and Zim are not that far apart. This sounds like a plan.”
@XNdimba tweeted: “Credit where it’s due. You guys clearly got this right. It’s highly politicised in SA — it’s an opposition party playground. They push conspiracies, calling them 'ideology'.”