COVID-19 Second wave: Senegal in talks with China’s Sinopharm to procure vaccine

Senegal is in talks to buy at least 200,000 doses of the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine, Health Minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr said on Wednesday.

Senegal said it would buy extra vaccines to complement those it will get through the World Health Organization-backed COVAX scheme, which aims to deliver 1.3 billion doses this year to 92 low- and middle-income nations.

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The figure of 200,000 doses is a “working basis,” Mr. Sarr explained, adding that the ministry intends to begin a roll-out “very soon”.

A deal with Sinopharm could help Senegal start vaccinations before COVAX kicks in, a small boost for a country where cases this month have surged to record highs and intensive care beds are full.

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As with other countries in Africa, Senegal’s infection rate is far below levels reached in the West, having recorded over 21,000 coronavirus cases since March, with 480 deaths.

A Chinese vaccine would be a good fit for Senegal, which does not have the cold storage capacity to hold vaccines that require ultra-low temperatures.

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Sinopharm says its vaccine is 79 percent effective against the novel coronavirus, a figure lower than those announced by its western competitors Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna of 95 and 94 percent respectively.

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