Nairobi, Kenya (AP) – More African countries on Wednesday received the first shipments of the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine, and Kenya and Rwanda benefited from the global COVAX initiative, which aims to provide doses to low- and middle-income countries. ,
Other African health officials have been disappointed that several rich countries are spinning vaccines after raising large sums of money.
“We will become known as the COVID continent if Africa does not quickly reach its goal of vaccinating 60% of its 1.3 billion people,” said John on Nkengasong, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. , The continent exceeded 100,000 confirmed deaths last month.
So far, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Angola and Congo have also received their first doses of the vaccine through COVAX, and several other countries, including Mali, Senegal, Malawi and Uganda, are set to receive it this week.
Rwanda becomes the first African country to receive the Pfizer vaccine through COFAX. The vaccine needs to be stored in extremely cold temperatures, which makes it difficult to spread in hot countries, such as rural areas.
COVAX has faced delays due to severely limited global supply of vaccines, as well as logistics issues.
And COVAX alone will not provide the 54 African countries with the doses needed to reach 60% of the population, to achieve so-called herd immunity, when enough people are protected through infection or vaccination to prevent the virus from spreading.
This is why some countries, such as South Africa, the worst-hit African country, also pursue COVID-19 vaccines through bilateral deals or the African Union Wholesale Program.
Despite the various challenges, some health officials rejoiced when the first doses of the vaccine were delivered through COVAX.
“We were fighting the epidemic with rubber bullets, but what we have achieved today is figuratively equivalent to machine guns,” said Kenyan Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe.
Kenya has received a 1.02 million dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Indian Serum Institute. The minister said the vaccines would be provided to about 400,000 health workers, with the rest going to other frontline staff, including teachers and police.
“This first shipment of 1 million vaccines is part of a 3.5 million order for Kenya,” UNICEF spokesman Andrew Brown told the Associated Press.
Kenya, the commercial center of East Africa, has more than 106,000 confirmed cases of the virus, including more than 1,800 deaths. Many health professionals have been dissatisfied with the inadequate supply of personal protective equipment for months. They say they have never been paid the benefits the government has promised them for their extra work in the fight against COVID-19.
Rwanda received 240,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and a dose of 102,960 Pfizer is expected later Wednesday. The Ministry of Health announced that these first doses will be aimed at frontline workers, people over the age of 65, and people with underlying health.
Health Minister Daniel Ngamige said Rwanda’s goal is to vaccinate 30% of the population by the end of this year and 60% by the end of 2022.
Rwanda recorded 19,111 cases և 265 deaths.
Ssuna reported from Kigali, Rwanda.
Follow the AP coverage of the virus outbreak: