Senegal on Wednesday received the first batch of 200,000 doses of China’s COVID-19 vaccine Sinopharm, reported Africa News. The Senegalese government paid around 2 billion CFA francs ($3.71 million) for the Sinopharm doses to launch its vaccination campaign this month.
In a televised ceremony to mark the occasion, President Macky Sall addressed the nation. He said the receipt of the vaccines meant the country was entering a new stage in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The urgency today is to protect our health workers on the frontline against the pandemic. It is also to protect people over 60 years old and those living with comorbidity. We will begin vaccinating people in these three categories as they are the priority,” the president of Senegal said.
For storing the vaccine, cold rooms have been installed and the country has received 1,117 WHO-approved freezers.
President Sall said the government has already started the process of acquiring other batches of the vaccine in the next few weeks, for a total of 6,790,000 doses that will allow beginning the mass vaccination phase.
Nearly 1.3 million more vaccine doses are also expected to arrive via the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX initiative.
The first phase of the vaccination campaign will see the country’s health workers, people over 60, and those with co-morbidity, getting the Sinopharm vaccine. It aims to inoculate around 90% of a targeted 3.5 million people by the end of 2021.
The Senegal president also asked the Minister of Health and Social Action to take all the health, logistical, financial, and social mobilization arrangements necessary for launching vaccination campaigns throughout the country. He called the Institute Pasteur in Dakar – which makes the vaccine against yellow fever – to examine the possibility of producing coronavirus vaccines.
Senegal has recorded almost 32,000 cases, including 760 deaths, so far.