‘Coronavirus cannot kill me now’; Africans cheer rollout of COVAX vaccinations By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A consignment of AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccines in Kitengela

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By Camillus Eboh and Omar Mohammed

ABUJA/NAIROBI (Reuters) – Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda began inoculating frontline healthcare staff and susceptible residents towards COVID-19 on Friday as Africa, the world’s poorest continent and residential to 1.3 billion folks, stepped up its vaccination campaigns.

Whereas some rich Western nations have already inoculated thousands and thousands of individuals, many African states have struggled to safe doses and have but to manage a single shot.

However the world vaccine-sharing COVAX facility, co-led by the World Well being Group (WHO), the GAVI vaccine alliance and others, has begun to bear fruit in nations from Ghana to Rwanda.

“Which means I’ll die when God needs as a result of the coronavirus can not kill me now,” 90-year-old Stephanie Nyirankuriza mentioned, leaning on a strolling stick after her shot at a well being centre simply east of the Rwandan capital Kigali.

Rwanda is the primary nation in Africa to make use of pharmaceutical firm Pfizer (NYSE:)’s doses that require ultra-cold storage.

President Paul Kagame’s authorities, which prides itself on technological prowess however is usually criticised as authoritarian, has put in particular infrastructure to maintain the Pfizer vaccine on the required -70C.

The Kagame authorities, which has obtained each Pfizer and AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:) pictures through the COVAX facility, plans to vaccinate as much as 30% of Rwanda’s 12 million folks by the tip of the 12 months.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and its greatest economic system, inoculated healthcare staff with AstraZeneca pictures on Friday, the beginning of a marketing campaign that goals to vaccinate 80 million of the 200 million-strong inhabitants this 12 months.

“I would like all people to be vaccinated,” Ngong Cyprian, a 42-year-old physician, informed Reuters within the capital Abuja as he turned the primary in Nigeria to obtain his shot, whereas officers clapped and cheered.

President Muhammadu Buhari will likely be vaccinated on Saturday in an effort to extend public confidence within the pictures.

Nigeria took supply of three.92 million AstraZeneca doses on Tuesday beneath COVAX, however the facility solely goals to cowl 20% of the inhabitants within the nations it helps. Nigeria can also be anticipating at the least 40 million doses from the African Union in addition to 100,000 donated doses of India’s Covishield vaccine.

‘THE VACCINE IS SAFE’

Applause greeted the primary vaccinations in Kenya on Friday after it obtained its first million doses this week through COVAX.

“I’m feeling nice,” mentioned Patrick Amoth, director common on the ministry of well being, after getting his shot. “The vaccine is secure.”

Kenya, which is eager to revive its tourism-dependent economic system, East Africa’s largest, plans to vaccinate 1.25 million folks by June and one other 9.6 million within the subsequent section, with extra vaccines anticipated inside weeks.

“This may increasingly mark the start of the tip of the pandemic,” mentioned Susan Mochache, a senior official on the well being ministry.

Neighbouring Uganda took supply on Friday of its first batch of 864,000 AstraZeneca doses through COVAX and goals to start inoculations on March 10.

As of Thursday, Africa as a complete had reported practically 4 million infections and 104,000 deaths – nonetheless a comparatively small toll in comparison with different continents, with greater nationwide loss of life counts in the USA, India, Brazil, Russia and Britain.

South Africa has recorded by far essentially the most COVID-19 infections and deaths on the African continent, with 1.5 million instances and greater than 50,000 fatalities to this point.

On Friday, a senior well being official mentioned South Africa was negotiating with an African Union (AU) platform to purchase vaccines for at the least 10 million of its folks.

The nation was provisionally allotted 12 million doses developed by AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:) in an AU vaccine plan, however it was unclear what number of vaccines it could search to purchase after it halted plans to make use of the AstraZeneca shot. ($1 = 109.5500 Kenyan shillings)

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