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Unicef to redistribute more than 1.3m DR Congo vaccines to avoid expiry

Unicef to redistribute more than 1.3m DR Congo vaccines to avoid expiry
In this Saturday, July 13, 2019 file photo, a person is vaccinated against Ebola in Beni, Congo.   -  
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Jerome Delay/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


The United Nations Children’s agency UNICEF said it will redistribute more than a million doses of vaccines meant for the Democratic Republic of Congo so that they don't expire.

UNICEF had earlier indicated that the vaccines distributed under the global Covax initiative will expire on 24 June.

The agency said it will distribute about 1.3 million doses out of the 1.7 million doses to other counties including Ghana, Comoros, Senegal and Angola.

DR Congo had delayed its AstraZeneca vaccine rollout over fears it could lead to rare blood clotting.

The Central African country has only administered a mere 400,000 vaccines it received after a more than one-month delay because of concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine's safety.

In the case of AstraZeneca as well as Johnson & Johnson, suspicions arose in several Western countries after cases of thrombosis (blood clots) in some vaccinated people.

After the study, the team of Congolese experts "reassured that the AstraZeneca vaccine already available in the DRC does not present any inconvenience to the population", according to Interior Minister Gilbert Kankonde.

"Vaccination will be voluntary and priority will be given to health workers, vulnerable people suffering from chronic diseases and all those exposed to a large flow in the course of their work," he said last Wednesday.

The DRC - with a population of more than 80 million - has received 1.7 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine as part of the Covax scheme, which aims to provide 20 percent of the population of nearly 200 countries with Covax vaccines this year.

The DRC has officially recorded 28,956 cases of Covid-19, including 745 deaths since the beginning of the epidemic, according to the latest report published on Sunday.