A COURT battle is looming between lawyers and the government over the Covid-19 vaccination programme which commenced yesterday with Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga receiving the first jab.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights through Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni Legal Practitioners had written to the government giving it until today to release necessary information on the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, not to conduct trials concurrently with vaccination and to give assurance that in future the authorities would conduct trials before administering a vaccine.
However, the government went ahead with the programme without providing the demanded assurance, setting the ground for a potential legal battle.
The lawyers were basing their action on a statement by acting Health secretary Robert Mudyirandima who was quoted on 15 February as saying the government would conduct clinical assessments in tandem with the vaccine rollout.
The human rights lawyers said this was tantamount to reducing Zimbabweans to guinea pigs.
“Further as you conduct the clinical trials, we also wish to remind you of the rights of every person, in terms of section 52(c) Constitution of Zimbabwe, to bodily and psychological integrity, which includes the rights not to be subjected to medical scientific experiments,” the letter reads.
“Our client therefore demands an assurance that, clinical trials of Sinopharm vaccine and any future Covid-19 vaccines to be imported, whose results will be made public, will be conducted first and the safety and efficacy of the vaccines established before the population of any select group thereof is vaccinated.
“Should our client not receive your response by 1600hours on the 19th of February 2021, we have instructions to approach the court for urgent relief.”
Zimbabwe received 200 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine donated by the Chinese government on Monday. The government says it has bought another 600 000 doses of the same vaccine.