KIGALI, March 3 (Xinhua) — Rwanda on Wednesday morning received the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX in its capital, Kigali, the Ministry of Health said in a statement.
The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines, which numbered 240,000 doses, will be followed by 102,960 doses of the Pfizer vaccines, also from the COVAX vaccine sharing program, that is expected to arrive on Wednesday evening, the statement said.
The vaccines will be used to vaccinate a total of 171,480 people from risk groups who are identified as priority, including health personnel, frontline workers and those older than 65 years or with underlying health conditions, it said.
“We are pleased to receive these first AstraZeneca-Oxford and Pfizer vaccines through the COVAX initiative, and appreciate the partnerships with the UN family, GAVI, funders and as well as manufacturers that have made this possible,” Rwandan Minister of Health Daniel Ngamije said in the statement.
The central African nation will immediately roll out its prepared vaccine plan, which will see the targeted risk groups across the country receiving their first dose, he said.
Rwanda’s target is to vaccinate 30 percent of the population by the end of 2021 and 60 percent by the end of 2022, according to him.
The jabs from the COVAX represent an “unprecedented global effort” to have equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, WHO Rwanda Country Representative Kasonde Mwinga said in the statement.
The vaccines will be dispatched on Thursday from the Rwanda Biomedical center (RBC) warehouse to district hospitals and then to all 508 health centers across the country, according to the statement.
The country will kick off the vaccination exercise on Friday in hospitals and health centers, and recipients will be invited through respective districts, it added.
According to the government, Rwanda continues negotiations with multiple partners, including international organizations and other governments to acquire additional vaccines.
The country plans to inoculate at least 60 percent of its population, or some 8 million people, in two years to achieve herd immunity against the virus.
As of Tuesday, Rwanda had recorded a total of 19,111 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 17,472 recoveries and 265 deaths.