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Mali receives first batch of COVID-19 vaccines

Doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine are unloaded from a plan upon arrival at the airport in Bamako, Mali, on March 5, 2021, as a part of the COVAX program.   -  
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Mali received its first batch of vaccines against COVID-19 on Friday, the first Sahel-Saharan country to receive shots through the COVAX initiative.

A plane carrying 396,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine landed in Bamako where President Bah N'Daw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane were among those waiting.

The leaders were joined by members of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF.

By Friday, Mali had registered 8,509 coronavirus cases and 358 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

As other African countries, Mali is receiving the vaccines through the COVAX mechanism created to ensure that low- and middle-income countries can access the jabs.

The COVAX delays have pushed other African countries to seek more doses elsewhere, including via bilateral deals that can be unfavourable.

Ten million COVAX doses had been delivered to 11 African countries, including the most populous country in the continent, Nigeria, which received almost 4 million doses and started its vaccination campaign on Friday.