Nigeria, Kenya, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in turn received their first doses of Covid-19 vaccines in Africa on Tuesday, funded by the Covax device created by the World Health Organization (WHO) in benefit of the poorest countries.
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A flight carrying 3.94 million doses of British AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine arrived shortly before noon at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, the capital of Africa's most populous country with 200 million people.
This is the first batch of 16 million doses of British AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine due to arrive in Nigeria in the coming months, where caregivers and at-risk professions will be the first vaccinated, as of Friday, the authorities have assured.
On Tuesday, a first shipment of more than one million doses of Covax-funded AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine arrived in Kenya.
Another plane landed 624,000 doses of the same vaccine in Luanda, allowing Angola to immediately start vaccinating health workers.
Several vaccination campaigns have started
On the same day, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) also received first doses provided by the Covax device.
Ghana was, on February 24, the first country to receive vaccines financed by the Covax device, followed by Côte d'Ivoire two days later.
About 30,000 free doses of vaccines funded by Covax were also expected Tuesday evening in The Gambia (two million inhabitants), where the vaccination campaign, targeting healthcare staff as a priority, will be launched very quickly after receipt of these lots, told AFP spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, Sanjally Trawalleh.
Neighboring Senegal (16 million inhabitants), which has already started to vaccinate, should receive a batch of 324,000 vaccines provided by Covax on Wednesday morning.
In Nigeria, "
vaccinations must begin Friday with occupations at risk,
" Nigerian presidential spokesman Garba Shehu told AFP, adding that the president and vice president would also receive an injection on Saturday.
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The boss of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, welcomed the arrival of vaccines in Nigeria: "
we must act together to provide vaccines to all countries in the first 100 days of 2021
", one of the announced objectives of Covax, the other being to provide two billion doses by the end of the year.
Some 237 million Astrazeneca / Oxford doses, manufactured in South Korea and by the Serum Institute of India, will be delivered by the end of May to 142 countries thanks to an unprecedented logistics operation.
To this will be added 1.2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which requires a cold chain at very low temperatures.
Covax, a system set up to try to ensure equitable access to vaccines around the world, began distribution only last week, as vaccination campaigns in many wealthy countries, which have procured their own doses, have started at the end of December.
It's a great day for Nigeria,
" said the director of the national agency in charge of immunization programs, Dr Faisal Shuaib, on Tuesday.
We have worked hard to be ready to administer the vaccine to health workers
There will remain enormous work to protect the population from Covid-19,
” he added in a statement.
Nigerian government secretary general Boss Mustapha urged traditional and religious leaders, civil society organizations and the media to spread the message that vaccination is necessary.
Nigeria wants to vaccinate at least 70% of its inhabitants over the age of 18 within the next two years, but this figure seems very ambitious given the immense security and logistical challenges in this huge, densely populated country with difficult weather conditions. and where the roads are difficult to pass.
Similar obstacles exist in many countries on the continent that are poor in infrastructure or face serious security challenges.
Cargo planes are waiting to transport the vaccines to the (36) states that make up Nigeria,
" said Dr Shuaib.
States which do not have an airport will use buses with cold rooms from the nearest airports,
" he added.
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Authorities have set up an online self-registration portal to try to facilitate vaccinations.
Relatively spared so far by the pandemic, Africa is facing a second wave of Covid-19.
The continent had 104,031 deaths on Tuesday for 3,904,996 recorded cases.
Nigeria for its part recorded 156,017 cases on Tuesday, including 1,915 deaths.
But these figures are underestimated, the number of tests carried out being low.