Ethiopia received its first 2.2 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine on Sunday, obtained thanks to the Covax initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) to allow the poorest countries to have access to the vaccination.
The Minister of Health, Dr Lia Tadesse, hailed the Covax device as an “unprecedented global partnership”, during a ceremony at Addis Ababa airport for the arrival of vaccines, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India in India.
A vaccination campaign that will start this week
“The more people get vaccinated, the faster we will overcome this pandemic,” she said. Ethiopia has recorded more than 165,000 cases of Covid-19, including more than 2,400 deaths. Over the past month, the number of cases there has increased by 12% per week and the number of deaths by 37% per week, according to the African Union (AU) public health agency.
Africa’s second most populous country, with 110 million people, plans to vaccinate around 20% by the end of the year, senior health ministry official Dr Muluken Yohannes. “The administration of vaccines will begin this week,” he said, adding that it would primarily target health workers.
Other delivery waves expected
Sunday’s delivery “is part of the first wave of Covid-19 vaccines in Ethiopia which will continue to arrive in the coming weeks,” the WHO said in a statement.
Djibouti, a neighbor of Ethiopia, has also received its first AstraZeneca vaccines as part of Covax, intended for caregivers, and people over 50 with comorbidities, the WHO announced on Saturday. The country has received 24,000 doses, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) said on Twitter.