Zimbabwe selected for groundbreaking HIV vaccine research
Reserve Bank to roll out nationwide bond notes awareness campaigns
ZIMBABWE will participate in the first ever HIV vaccine research trials conducted in four continents to establish if an anti-body mediated prevention (AMP) can help to end HIV.
HIV and Aids continue to kill thousands of people annually in Sub-Saharan Africa and the disease has no known cure.
A vaccine may help to eradicate the pandemic globally through preventing new infections.
The study, researchers say, will test whether giving people an investigational anti-HIV antibody THE introduction of bond notes early next month is on course with massive awareness campaigns expected to start on October 31 countrywide, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Dr John Mangudya, said yesterday.
He said the bank was in the process of importing more US dollars, but warned the people not to abuse the money.
The bond notes with a value of $75 million, will be introduced in $2 and $5 denominations.
Dr Mangudya said there was no way the Government would become careless to the extent of printing a lot of money as it was aware of the consequences.
The printing will be controlled to avoid inflation, he said, adding the bigger notes would be in US dollars.
Speaking at a luncheon organised by the St Luke Anglican Church in Greendale, Dr Mangudya said the bond notes could not be introduced without carrying out awareness campaigns as people would be duped.
He dismissed speculation that the cash shortage was a result of the impending introduction of the bond notes.
Dr Mangudya said the shortage was a result of more imports and low exports.
He also dismissed suggestions by some sections of the business community that Zimbabwe should adopt called VRC01 as an intravenous infusion every 8 weeks is safe, tolerable and effective at preventing HIV infection. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region most affected by HIV with 25 million adults and children living with the disease. Zimbabwe whose HIV prevalence rate is 14 percent, is the fifth highest in Sub-Saharan Africa. In an interview at the world HIV Research for Prevention Conference in Chicago United States of America, Dr Nyaradzo Mmgodi, the University of Zimbabwe and University of California San Francisco (UZ-UCSF) project manager said South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, the South African rand as currency of reference.
He said Zimbabwe requires its own currency before joining the Rand Monetary Union.
Dr Mangudya however said it was still impossible to bring back the Zimdollar because the conditions were not conducive for such action.
“The major mistake was done in 2009 when the Government liberalised the economy, which led to the use of the US dollar as a trading currency instead of a reserve currency. This resulted in some investors coming to Zimbabwe only for the US dollar and these took the money out. Botswana and Kenya would also participate in the research dubbed the HVTN702.
“We’ve never seen cases of polio in Zimbabwe because we’ve an effective vaccine against it and that’s the aim with HIV. The most effective public health intervention to deal with infectious diseases is vaccines and we would want to bring an end to HIV,” said Dr Mmgodi.
“We’re excited about the study which is going to take us about 15 to 20 years. In the meantime, we are promoting Prep (Pre-exposure prophylaxis), vaginal ring and other interventions to prevent and treat HIV.
“It’s a big study being conducted on four continents, North and South America, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa and will incorporate 4 200 women across the “Since 2009, we gave an impression that Zimbabwe manufactured US dollars. The move taken in 2009 was dangerous. It was both economic and political and maybe we spent more time on the political side,” he said. Dr Mangudya said it was not surprising that some people who were enjoying the economic status quo were against the introduction of bond notes just as the detractors in the Bible discouraged Nehemiah from rebuilding. “Let us rise up and build Zimba bwe together. We should not dwell in the past. We are facing continents and 1 500 women in the seven African countries,” she said.
Dr Mmgodi said the anti-body concept was taken from a group of people known as elite controllers who can manage and suppress HIV without treatment.
“One of these elite controllers was found to have VRCO1 like antibodies which help them control HIV without treatment. This antibody was taken and a similar anti-body was manufactured in the lab by the Vaccines Research Centre. Our readers must understand that this anti-body which we will be testing didn’t come from a HIV infected. this VROC1 was manufactured to resemble the anti-body which was found in the elite controller,” she said.” challenges because Zimbabwe is importing more than she is exporting. We’ve exported cash to other countries.
“Let’s work hard. We are to blame. We introduced the SI64 to reduce imports and promote local production and people demonstrated against the measure. We’re in a better situation now than in May. Because of the SI64, production is improving and more jobs are being created.
“Let’s exploit all the markets available, Zimbabwe has a wide market in China, we can export our beef and indigenous poultry to China. We’ve 13 million tonnes of gold underground but in 36 years we’ve mined 585 000 tonnes. If Botswana could do with diamonds only why can’t Zimbabwe use gold,” he said.
The RBZ boss said the Government had provided a $20 million facility to promote small scale artisan mining to boost gold production so that more gold is delivered to the central bank.
“Let’s continue to do what’s good for the economy. We want to develop a strong economy. Malaysia was worse off than Zimbabwe in 1995 but now has US$100 billion in reserves,” he said.
Dr Mangudya said the Zimbabwe’s economic challenges were worsened by the drought, which saw the country increasing imports through buying food from other countries.
“We’ve fiscal deficit or lack of fiscal space. Our expenditures are more than revenue. We use the bulk of our money to pay wages,” he said.
The governor said under UDI Ian Smith introduced import substitution, which saw no one importing commodities.
He said the Government had also brought an export initiative incentive to promote exporters.
“Foreign currency should be earned first. It’s unfortunate that the people who make noise the most don’t understand. Some people panic at the introduction of bond notes but they don’t have the money,” he said.
Dr Mangudya said most people wanted to have money on them but in other countries people rarely use cash but instead rely on plastic money.
“During the past two weeks we have been securing money and it is coming but do not abuse it. We can use plastic money for some transactions.
“The problem is that we are now addicted to the US dollar. People also smuggle minerals. We need to increase production by coming up with good investment policies and then we can boost productivity,” he said.
Some of the people who attended the luncheon raised concern that corrupt activities such as externalising cash was being done by businessmen and not ordinary people.
They said the Government should also lead by example by buying local goods with ministers and Government departments buying local cars.
Others suggested that an incentive be given to manufacturers to boost production.
Dr John Mangudya