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Sierra Leone: President Bio and government get first COVID-19 shots

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SAIDU BAH/AFP or licensors


Sierra Leone kicked off its Covid-19 vaccination campaign on Monday with President Julius Maada Bio receiving an injection of one of the 200,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines donated by China.

The launch took place at the State House in the capital Freetown with a ceremony during which other government officials, parliamentarians and senior civil servants were also vaccinated.

The Head of State addressed the nation:

"At this stage, it is a milestone that we have been trying to fight Covid-19 using measures, but now we have the vaccine. Thanks be to the People's Republic of China and the COVAX facilities. We have two sets of vaccines that are quite safe. I think I can simply say that we have fought a very good fight."

The West African country has also received 96,000 doses of the Oxford- AstraZeneca vaccines via the WTO's Covax facility. These vaccines have been suspended in recent days by several countries after reports of side effects.

Nevertheless, the Health Minister Dr Austin Demby, seems to be confident about their efficiency.

"Both the Sinopharm and AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines have been extensively tested and found to be safe and effective by Sierra Leone as millions of people around the world have received them."

The first phase of the vaccination campaign targets people over 70, teachers, firefighters, government officials and health workers.

Sierra Leone, a country of 7.5 million people, has officially recorded 3,937 cases of coronavirus, including 79 deaths.

An infection rate far below that of the West.

But the country is nonetheless in the middle of the second wave of Covid-19 infections, which forced the government to impose a nationwide curfew last month.