More than 1.7 million doses of coronavirus vaccines arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday as part of the COVAX initiative, which aims to distribue doses fairly across the world.
Last week, Ghana and Ivory Coast were the first African countries to receive vaccines from Covax, which is aiming to supply two billion doses by the end of the year.
On Tuesday Nigeria received almost four million jabs and Angola welcomed more than 600,000 doses and The Gambia was expected to take roughly 30,000.
The Covax facility, run by the World Health Organization along with health NGOs, is aiming to supply vaccines to dozens of countries in the first 100 days of 2021, and two billion doses by the end of the year.
The alliance comprises the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, (the Vaccine Alliance), UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The vaccines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are part of the first wave of supplies that will continue over the next few weeks.
Medical authorities have decided to use the AstraZeneca vaccine because it meets the DRC's existing storage conditions (between 2° and 8°C).
Received by Congolese Health Minister Eteni Longondo, their delivery is a historic step towards ensuring equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide — and is part of the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history.
A plan for the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccines across the country is being finalised.