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.
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.
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.
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.