Rwanda has received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines through the World Health Organization’s global vaccine sharing scheme, COVAX initiative.
The 240,000 doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine delivered to Rwanda on Wednesday are part of efforts by COVAX to deliver close to 2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses globally in 2021.
A Rwandan Health Ministry statement said some 171,480 people from risk groups, including health personnel, frontline workers, the elderly aged 65 years and above, as well as those with underlying health conditions, will be vaccinated.
Another consignment of 102,960 doses of the Pfizer vaccines procured under the same initiative would arrive in the country later in the day, the statement added.
Rwanda targets to vaccinate 30% of its population by the end of 2021 and 60% by the end of 2022, according to Health Minister Daniel Ngamije.
The vaccines were due to be distributed to district hospitals and health centers across the country, with vaccination expected to start on Friday, Ngamije said.
The vaccine from the COVAX represents an unprecedented global effort to have equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccines, WHO Rwanda Representative Kasonde Mwinga said in a statement.
A landlocked country in East Africa, Rwanda had recorded a total of 19,111 COVID-19 cases, with 265 deaths as of Tuesday.
Rwanda is the latest African country to receive COVAX vaccines after Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Angola, DR Congo, Kenya and Gambia.
Each new delivery marks an advance towards defeating the pandemic, which has held lives and economies hostage for too long, according to Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa reached 3.91 million, with 104,382 deaths, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.