Senegal received 200,000 doses of China’s COVID-19 vaccine Sinopharm on Wednesday — purchased at around 3.8 million (US) dollars, according to the country’s Finance Ministry.
Nearly 1.3 million more vaccine doses are also expected to arrive via the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX initiative.
In a televised ceremony to mark the occasion, President Macky Sall addressed the nation.
“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.”
For vaccine storage, cold rooms have been installed and the country has received 1,117 WHO-approved freezers.
President Sall continued, “We have 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 us to begin the mass vaccination phase.”
Sall called on the Health Minister to undertake all the necessary logistical, financial and social mobilisation arrangements for the vaccination campaign launch.
The Senegalese Head of State also called on the Institut Pasteur in Dakar — which produces a vaccine against yellow fever, to examine the possibility of locally producing coronavirus vaccines.
Since the onset of the pandemic, Senegal has recorded almost 32,000 cases — including 760 deaths, and infections have increased in the past few months.