A few things could have been done differently:
1) Yes the SA variant is new (dec 2020), and the Chinese vaccine has be around for a while and tested in a number places.
If we and the Chinese were in a proactive and empowering partnership, within the period from December to now; clinical trials could have be done on the drug against this SA variant in Zimbabwe or SA by the Chinese working with Africans.
2) We could have established the efficacy of the Chinese drug against the SA variant before roll-out, just as he South Africans did with respect to the Oxford one before rollout, although they were late into the process as well.
A lot of things can be done BEFORE shipping a drug, if there is a meaningful partnership between manufacturer and consumer.
3) Forget the SA variant. For the other virus variants in Zimbabwe; Zimbabweans working with the Chinese should have done trials in Zimbabwe way before shipment.
There was plenty time to run trials of the Chinese vaccine on the these variants in Zimbabwe.
Why should we depend on data and trials from other jurisdictions?
Where is our agency in this?
4) Advance work with the Chinese in Zimbabwe would have enabled us to do a SWOT analysis on the vaccine, and clearly understand its exceptions (cases where it does not apply).
All this knowledge and insights about the Chinese vaccines could have gathered way before shipment into Zimbabwe.
5) More, importantly the Chinese are our all-weather friends (I hope and trust that this is the case);
Why can’t we as a continent work with them to do vaccines R and D, manufacturing of vaccines, run clinical trials …. participation in the entire drug value chain with them?
The Chinese are working on at least 6 vaccines. Why can’t they partner with the African continent on just ONE of those vaccines?
As all-weather friends whose bond was crafted in blood against imperialism (as they tell us) we surely can work together on just ONE vaccine as whole continent with our dear comrades.
That is not too much to ask as fellow comrade in arms.
6) Listen, it is a crisis situation.
Yes, we take what is available.
We must save our people.
However, we must learn and try to do things differently. Where we err we must quickly rectify the situation.
The sooner we pick up lessons from this COVID-19 experience as Africans the better; for our struggle against this pandemic and future ones.