4 Billion Anti-Coronavirus Shots Injected Worldwide

In this file photo Moderna vaccines are seen kept on the table at a Covid-19 vaccine at Florida Memorial University Vaccination Site in Miami Gardens, Florida on April 14, 2021. – (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP)

 

 

 

More than 4 billion doses of anti-Covid vaccines have been administered around the world, eight months after the vaccination drive started, according to an AFP count Thursday.

Global injections have slowed slightly: this fourth billion was reached in 30 days, while it took only 26 days to reach the previous one. The first and second billion were reached after about 140 and 40 days respectively.

Forty of the four billion shots have been administered in China (1.6 billion). India (451 million) and the United States (343 million) make up the trio of countries that have administered the most jabs.

In terms of population among countries with more than one million people, the United Arab Emirates is the leader: 168 first and second doses administered per 100 inhabitants. Uruguay follows (137), then Bahrain (134).

The UAE is close to having 70 percent of its population fully vaccinated while Uruguay and Bahrain have both reached more than 60 percent.

After this the leading countries are Qatar, Chile and Canada (129 shots per 100 inhabitants), Israel (128), Singapore (125), the United Kingdom, Mongolia and Denmark (124) and Belgium (121).

These countries have all fully vaccinated more than half their populations.

Not far off this are China (111), the United States (104) and the European Union (103). The US and EU have fully vaccinated nearly half their population while China does not communicate this information.

Most poor countries have now started to vaccinate, mainly thanks to the Covax scheme and donations of unused doses by rich countries, but the vaccination coverage remains very unequal: high-income countries (as defined by the World Bank) administered an average of 97 doses per 100 inhabitants compared with just 1.6 doses in low-income countries.

On average 52 shots have been injected per 100 inhabitants worldwide.

Four countries are not yet vaccinating: Burundi, Eritrea, Haiti and North Korea.

Pfizer Raises 2021 Outlook On Surging COVID-19 Vaccine Sales

In this file photo The Pfizer logo is viewed on their world headquarters in Manhattan on May 5, 2014 in New York City. 

 

 

Pfizer lifted its annual revenue and profit projections Wednesday on surging demand for Covid-19 vaccine doses as executives amplified their case for booster shots amid the latest wave of infections.

The two-shot inoculation accounted for more than 40 percent of Pfizer’s sales in the second quarter, boosting revenues sharply compared with the same three months of 2020.

Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla said more than a billion doses of the vaccine have been delivered so far.

The US drugmaker, which has partnered with Germany’s BioNTech on the vaccine, now expects to deliver 2.1 billion doses this year, generating $33.5 billion in sales, topping the May forecast for $26 billion in sales on 1.6 billion doses.

Bourla said “the speed and efficiency of our efforts with BioNTech to help vaccinate the world against Covid-19 have been unprecedented.”

In the second quarter, the company logged profits of $5.6 billion, up 59 percent from the prior year on a 92 percent increase in revenues to $19 billion.

Recent commercial developments for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine venture include a May agreement with the European Union, a June deal with the United States for 500 million doses to donate to the poorest countries, and a letter of intent signed in July with the Biovac Institute to manufacture the vaccine in Africa.

The pre-tax profit margin on the Covid-19 vaccine was in the high-20 percent range, the same as the earlier forecast, the company said.

That has raised the ire of non-governmental organizations such as Public Citizen, which has accused Pfizer of “profiteering” on the pandemic and called on world leaders to launch a multi-billion dollar campaign to build vaccine manufacturing capacity and “vaccinate the world.”

But Pfizer, which has resisted efforts to roll back patent protections on vaccines, has defended its policies, saying it has priced the shots moderately in middle income countries and at cost for low-income countries.

Bourla also said he expects Pfizer to deliver one billion doses to middle-and-low income countries this year and another one billion in 2022.

The company expects to produce a total of three billion Covid-19 vaccines, meaning additional contracts could be announced this year.

– A third shot? –
Much of the 90-minute conference call with Wall Street analysts focused on the prospect for additional vaccine-related revenue, notably from booster shots that Pfizer has argued will be needed to contain Covid-19.

Bourla has said he expects “durable demand” for Covid-19 vaccines, similar to that of the annual flu shot.

Pfizer has launched clinical studies on a possible third dose of the vaccine, and plans to submit data on the booster shot to the government next month.

The company’s presentation included charts showing a third jab boosting effectiveness against new variants, including fast-spreading Delta.

“What we have said for months is that we believe…. we will need a booster eight to 12 months from the second dose, and we have seen with the Delta that might be needed a little bit earlier for some parts of the population,” Bourla told analysts on a conference call.

US health officials have thus far been circumspect on the need for a third shot for the broad population, but officials are studying the need in immunocompromised people.

“Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time,” according to a July 8 statement from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are prepared for booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed,” the agencies said.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shifted course and directed vaccinated people to resume wearing masks indoors in high-risk parts of the United States.

Bourla suggested government’s response thus far on boosters reflects the normal process.

“We haven’t submitted the data yet, so I don’t think the FDA or CDC can speak because they have very different authority when they speak,” Bourla said.

Shares of Pfizer rose 2.9 percent to $43.31 in midday trading.

WTO Working To Boost Vaccine Production In Africa – Okonjo-Iweala

A file photo of former Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okono-Iweala.
A file photo of former Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okono-Iweala.

 

The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has said talks are in motion to persuade vaccine companies to invest more in Africa.

She made the comment while speaking virtually at the annual National Diaspora Day celebration in Abuja on Sunday.

According to the WTO chief, manufacture of vaccines on the continent will reduce vaccination inequality, made more stark by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite rising cases in Africa, many countries have struggled to secure vaccines for their population.

According to the World Health Organisation, only about 1.5% of the population on the continent is fully vaccinated. In countries like the US, the number is well over 50 percent.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala, who used to sit on the board of Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, said attempts have been made to bring the CEOS of “major manufacturing companies from Moderna to Pfizer to AstraZeneca, J&J” to the table.

Meanwhile, she also called for the implementation of Diaspora voting in future Nigerian elections.

Pfizer/BioNTech To Produce COVID-19 Vaccine In South Africa

In this file photo taken on December 8, 2020 a member of staff draws the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine out of a phial at the Southmead Hospital, Briston. The US Food and Drug Adminstration on December 11, 2020 granted the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine an emergency use authorization, paving the way for its imminent rollout across the country.
Graeme Robertson / AFP / POOL

 

COVID-19 vaccine makers BioNTech and Pfizer said Wednesday they will produce their jab in South Africa from 2022, a first for the continent that could see much-needed immunisation drives pick up speed. 

The move comes amid growing criticism of vaccine inequality that has seen poor countries fall behind richer ones in the race to protect people from the coronavirus.

Under the agreement, Cape Town-based Biovac will complete the last step in the manufacturing process of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, known as “fill and finish”, the companies said in a statement.

The project will take time to get off the ground, however, with the first African-finished Pfizer vaccines not expected before next year.

Once up and running, Biovac is set to churn out more than 100 million doses annually that will be distributed to the 55 countries in the African Union.

“This is a critical step forward in strengthening sustainable access to a vaccine in the fight against this tragic, worldwide pandemic,” said Biovac chief executive officer Morena Makhoana.

“Technical transfer, on-site development and equipment installation activities will begin immediately,” the statement added.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called the partnership “a breakthrough” for African nations.

The reaction from the World Health Organization was more muted.

“We welcome all initiatives to increase Covid-19 vaccine production in the future but immediate action is needed now,” a spokesman said.

In low-income countries, “only one percent of people have received at least one dose, compared with more than half of people in high-income countries,” he added.

The coronavirus vaccine developed by Germany’s BioNTech and its US partner Pfizer, based on experimental mRNA technology, was the first to be approved in the West late last year.

Studies have shown it is highly effective against Covid-19, including against newer variants.

Another plant in South Africa is already handling the fill and finish process for the Covid-19 shot developed by pharmaceutical firm Johnson & Johnson, which uses a traditional viral vector-based method.

– Debate over patents –
Calls have grown for pharma companies to waive patents on their life-saving jabs to speed up the pace of inoculations globally.

Washington and Paris have backed the suggestion, but the vaccine companies themselves are fiercely opposed.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also said that suspending intellectual property rights could stifle innovation and would not resolve the lack of manufacturing capacity in the short term.

She has instead argued for licensing agreements and partnerships between vaccine makers and local firms, the approach taken by BioNTech and Pfizer.

“We aim to enable people on all continents to manufacture and distribute our vaccine while ensuring the quality of the manufacturing process and the doses,” said Ugur Sahin, BioNTech’s co-founder and CEO.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said weakening intellectual property “will only discourage the type of unprecedented innovation which brought vaccines forward in record time and make it harder for companies to collaborate going forward”.

– Vaccine hub –
Pfizer/BioNTech said they have so far shipped more than one billion Covid-19 vaccine doses to over 100 countries or territories, including through the Covax vaccine-sharing programme.

The Covax scheme, backed by the WHO and heavily relied on by African countries, has so far delivered far fewer doses than expected, however.

South Africa has the highest number of Covid-19 cases and fatalities in Africa, recording more than 2.3 million infections and over 67,000 deaths.

The country is currently battling a third wave of the pandemic, fuelled by a lack of vaccines, public fatigue with Covid restrictions and the highly contagious Delta variant.

South African President Ramaphosa last month announced a plan to turn his country into an mRNA vaccine hub, saying Africans “cannot continue to rely on vaccines that are made outside of Africa because they never come”.

NAFDAC Approves Moderna And Sputnik Vaccines For Use

 

A health worker prepares a dose to inoculate a woman with the Covaxin Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at a school-turned-vaccination centre.
Tauseef MUSTAFA / AFP

 

The National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control has approved two more COVID-19 vaccines for use in Nigeria.

They are the Moderna and Sputnik vaccines.

Both vaccines were approved for emergency use, according to the Director-General of NAFDAC, Professor Moji Adeyeye, who announced the news on Thursday at a news conference in Abuja.

The agency had earlier approved the Oxford-Astrazeneca and Pfizer jabs, also for emergency use.

Professor Adeyeye explained that although the Sputnik vaccine, produced in Russia, has not yet been approved by the World Health Organisation, NAFDAC has carried out independent checks on the vaccine and found that the benefits outweigh the risks.

The approval comes as fears of a COVID-19 third wave in Nigeria continues to loom.

On Wednesday, the University of Lagos ordered students to vacate hostels on campus after a number of students reportedly contracted COVID-19.

The possibility of a third-wave has heightened after the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reported the Delta variant of the virus in Nigeria.

The variant is believed to be more contagious and deadlier than its predecessors.

 

 

Pfizer Seeks Authorisation For 3rd COVID-19 Shot As Vaccine Efficacy Drops

A medical worker shows a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on February 12, 2021 at the Tapparelli Retirement Home in Saluzzo, near Cuneo, Northwestern Italy, during a vaccination campaign for people over 80.
Marco Bertorello / AFP

 

 

Pfizer and BioNTech announced Thursday they would seek regulatory authorization for a third dose of their COVID-19 vaccine.

It comes after initial data from an ongoing trial showed a third shot pushed antibody levels five to 10 times higher against the original coronavirus strain and the Beta variant, first found in South Africa, compared to the first two doses alone, according to a statement.

“The companies expect to publish more definitive data soon as well as in a peer-reviewed journal and plan to submit the data to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), EMA (European Medicines Agency) and other regulatory authorities in the coming weeks,” the statement said.

In addition, the companies expect that a third dose will perform similarly well against the highly transmissible Delta strain, which is quickly becoming globally dominant.

Out of caution, the companies are also developing a Delta-specific vaccine, the first batch of which has been manufactured at BioNTech’s facility in Mainz, Germany.

The companies anticipate the clinical studies will begin in August, subject to regulatory approvals.

Based on drop-offs in efficacy seen in Israel after six months, the companies said they believe a third dose may be needed within six to 12 months after full vaccination

“While protection against severe disease remained high across the full 6 months, a decline in efficacy against symptomatic disease over time and the continued emergence of variants are expected,” the statement said.

The FDA and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a joint statement late Thursday saying authorities were studying “whether or when a booster might be necessary.”

“Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot at this time,” the agencies said. “We are prepared for booster doses if and when the science demonstrates that they are needed.”

Vaccine Used In Nigeria Can Protect Against Indian COVID-19 Variant – NPHCDA

In this file photo, a vial containing the COVID-19 vaccine by AstraZeneca and a syringe are seen on a table. AFP
In this file photo, a vial containing the COVID-19 vaccine by AstraZeneca and a syringe are seen on a table. AFP

 

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency has called on Nigerians to continue to take the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Addressing reporters on Tuesday in Abuja, the Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, stated that the vaccine was not only effective but was capable of protecting people against the Indian variant of the virus.

“Recent research from Public Health England (PHE) shows that the Indian (Delta) variant B.1.617.2 is 92% susceptible to Oxford/AstraZeneca,” he said at the briefing to update Nigerians on the status of COVID-19 vaccination.

Shuaib added, “It is, therefore, comforting to know that the vaccine used in Nigeria can protect against this variant that caused high morbidity and mortality in India. However, it underscores the need for us to ramp up our vaccination to more Nigerians.”

He announced that the Nigerian government has reopened the administration of the first dose of the vaccine effective from Tuesday, in response to requests by Nigerians to be vaccinated.

The NPHCDA boss noted that the vaccination for the first dose was officially closed on May 24 and appealed to persons of 18 years and above that were yet to take the jab to visit the nearest vaccination site for the first dose of the vaccine.

He explained that such persons would be due to receive their second dose of the jab in 12 weeks, noting that Nigeria would have received the next consignment of vaccines.

The NPHCDA boss said dedicated teams have continued to make strides in the vaccine rollout, working hand-in-hand with the local communities all across the country.

As of June 15, he revealed that the agency has administered 1,978,808 and 680,345 first and second doses of the vaccine respectively.

Shuaib called on all Nigerians who have received their first dose to check their vaccination cards for the date of their first dose.

He asked them to ensure that they receive the second dose between six and 12 weeks from the date they took the first dose, to gain full protection against the COVID-19 virus.

Nigeria To Get 3.92m More COVID-19 Vaccine Doses ‘End Of July Or Early August’, Says FG

NPHCDA Executive Director, Dr Faisal Shuaib, flanked by two men at a press briefing in Abuja on June 15, 2021.

 

Nigeria will receive additional 3.92 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine latest in early August.

Dr Faisal Shuaib, who disclosed this to reporters on Tuesday in Abuja, however, did not give the exact dates as to when the country would take delivery of the vaccines.

“We now have information that Nigeria will get 3.92 million doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca by end of July or early August,” the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) said at the briefing to update Nigerians on the status of COVID-19 vaccination.

He added, “As we receive additional information on the exact dates in August, we will provide an update regarding timelines and details of this.”

The NPHCDA boss noted that the agency has held town halls in the North-central and north-east regions of the country.

He stated that while efforts to ensure the supply of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines were ongoing, the Presidential Steering Committee would hold its planned meeting with stakeholders in the south-south region and the larger communities on COVID-19 vaccination on the course of the week.

 

A Curfew Remains In Place

Shuaib stressed that the NPHCDA was fully committed to going to communities to discuss directly its vaccine effort, the importance of staying safe and protected against COVID-19, and answering the questions people have.

“We have been really grateful for the high levels of participation and interest in these events. We are confident that through continued awareness-raising, we will be able to keep communities safe and healthy,” he said.

 

The NPHCDA boss raised an alarm that there has been a rise in COVID-19 cases in several African countries recently and called on all Nigerians to continue to take precautions to prevent the spread of the disease.

According to him, wearing a face-covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces can save lives and a curfew remains in place from midnight until 4am every day.

Shuaib added, “Indoor gatherings must be limited to 50 people, and are only permitted if all attendees abide by social distancing and wear face masks.

“And the government has introduced restrictions on incoming travel from high-risk countries and quarantine requirements to keep Nigerians safe. With a virus like COVID-19, we each must do our part to keep our communities safe.”

FG Reopens First Dose COVID-19 Vaccination, Says Second Dose To End June 25

NPHCDA Executive Director, Dr Faisal Shuaib, flanked by two men at a press briefing in Abuja on June 15, 2021.

 

The Nigerian government has reopened the administration of the first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in various parts of the country.

This takes effect from Tuesday, according to the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib.

“Recall that we officially closed the vaccination for the first dose on May 24, 2021. Since then, we have been inundated with requests by Nigerians to be vaccinated,” he told reporters on Tuesday in Abuja at a briefing to update Nigerians on the status of COVID-19 vaccination.

Shuaib added, “In response, we have decided to reopen vaccination for the first dose from today.

“This means anyone 18 years and above who has not been vaccinated should visit the nearest vaccination site for the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

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A file photo of a medical doctor receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at the National Hospital in Abuja on March 5, 2021.

 

He explained that such persons would be due to receive their second dose of the jab in 12 weeks, noting that Nigeria would have received the next consignment of vaccines.

The NPHCDA boss noted that dedicated teams have continued to make strides in the vaccine rollout, working hand-in-hand with the local communities all across the country.

As of June 15, he disclosed that the agency has administered 1,978,808 and 680,345 first and second doses of the vaccine respectively.

Shuaib called on all Nigerians who have received their first dose to check their vaccination cards for the date of their first dose.

 

He asked them to ensure that they receive the second dose between six and 12 weeks from the date they took the first dose, to gain full protection against the COVID-19 virus.

The NPHCDA boss stated that in some cases, the location of the second dose could be different from that of the first dose.

“I, therefore, urge all Nigerians who have received their first dose at least six weeks ago to visit the nearest vaccination site to receive their second dose, for full protection against COVID-19 on or before June 25 when we shall close the administration of the second dose,” he pleaded.

China To Offer COVID-19 Vaccine To Children As Young As Three

Passengers wearing face masks wait for their train at Changsha railway station in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province on March 10, 2020. Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Wuhan on March 10 for his first visit to the epicentre of the coronavirus epidemic since the crisis erupted in January -- a major sign that officials believe the outbreak is under control. Noel Celis AFP
Passengers wearing face masks wait for their train at Changsha railway station in Changsha, China’s central Hunan province on March 10, 2020. (Photo by Noel Celis / AFP)

 

 

China has approved the emergency use of a Covid-19 vaccine for those as young as three, the drugmaker confirmed Tuesday, making it the first country to offer jabs to young children.

Since the coronavirus first emerged in central China, Beijing has mostly managed to bring the country’s outbreak under control, and has administered over 777 million vaccine doses after a sluggish start.

A spokesperson for Sinovac told AFP its vaccine had been approved for use on children.

“In recent days, the Sinovac vaccine was approved for emergency use in three- to 17-year-olds,” the spokesperson said.

But he did not confirm when the young children would be able to start receiving the shots, saying the schedule for the rollout will be decided by the National Health Commission “according to China’s current epidemic prevention and control needs and vaccine supply”.

The company has completed early phase trials of the vaccine in children and adolescents, with results to be published shortly in the Lancet scientific journal, the spokesperson added.

State broadcaster CCTV reported over the weekend that an unnamed official in the State Council’s epidemic response task force had said vaccines had been approved for children, and “the safety and effectiveness” had been proven.

A spokesperson for China’s other major vaccine, Sinopharm, said that experts had demonstrated the effectiveness of its vaccine in children, but didn’t confirm whether it had been approved for use.

Chinese officials have said they are aiming to inoculate 70 percent of the population of 1.41 billion by the end of this year.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved both the Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines for emergency use in adults aged 18 and older, and both jabs are being administered in several countries around the world.

While the WHO does not currently recommend vaccinating children against coronavirus, the United States, Britain, Singapore and the European Union have approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those as young as 12.

China reported 33 new Covid-19 cases Tuesday, including 19 in southern Guangdong province where authorities have been battling a local outbreak.

WHO Warns Of June-July Covax Doses Shortfall

A carton box of a Covishield vaccine developed by Pune based Serum Institute of India (SII) is unloaded at Mumbai airport on February 24, 2021, as part of the Covax scheme, which aims to procure and distribute inoculations fairly among all nations.
INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / AFP

 

 

The World Health Organization said Friday a shortfall in COVID-19 vaccine doses going through the Covax programme in June and July could undermine the efficiency of the roll-out.

Covax was set up to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, particularly to low-income countries, and has already delivered more than 80 million doses to 129 territories.

But that is “about 200 million doses behind where we want to be”, Bruce Aylward, the WHO’s Covax frontman, told reporters in Geneva.

So while wealthy countries had pledged to give some 150 million doses so far — on top of the doses Covax procures with donated funds — that would not resolve the problem.

“We are setting up for failure if we don’t get early doses. We are not on track yet: we don’t have enough doses from enough countries early enough to get the world on track to get out of this,” Aylward said.

While the pledges to donate 150 million doses through Covax was a “great start”, Aylward said there were “two big problems”.

“Number one, very little is committed to the June-July period, which means we’re going to still have this gap,” Aylward said.

“The other problem is just the volume. If we are going to get on track to get at least 30-40 percent of the world population vaccinated this year we got to get another 250 million people vaccinated between now and the end of September.”

Supply problems

Covax is an international scheme co-led by the WHO, Gavi and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.

It intends to procure enough vaccines for 30 percent of the population in 92 of the poorest participating territories — 20 percent in India — with donors covering the cost.

Covax has been hit by inequalities in the global vaccine roll-out, but also delivery delays.

AstraZeneca shots making up 97 percent of doses supplied so far — the rest being Pfizer-BioNTech.

The Serum Institute of India, producing AstraZeneca doses, was to have been the backbone of Covax’s supply chain. However, New Delhi restricted vaccine exports to combat a devastating domestic surge.

SII said Wednesday that it hoped to resume supplies to Covax over the next few months.

Covax was set up to combat the likelihood of rich countries buying up most available vaccine doses — which occurred as predicted.

On Thursday, the world hit the milestone of two billion Covid-19 vaccines having been injected around the world, according to an AFP count.

But of those doses, 37 percent have been administered in high-income countries accounting for 16 percent of the global population.

Just 0.3 percent have been administered in the 29 lowest-income countries, home to nine percent of the world’s people.

Burkina Faso Receives First Batch Of COVID-19 Vaccine

PHOTO USED TO ILLUSTRATE THE STORY: Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kabore (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

 

Burkina Faso has received the first batch of 115,200 doses of Covid-19 vaccines, funded by the international Covax scheme to enable the poor West African state to launch a vaccination drive on Wednesday.

“We welcome the first doses of vaccine against Covid-19 in Burkina Faso,” Burkinabe Health Minister Charlemagne Ouedraogo said as the consignment arrived at Ouagadougou airport late Sunday.

“Thanks to scientific progress, we now have another arsenal for the fight” against Covid, Ouedraogo added.

The nationwide drive set to begin Wednesday will target people most at risk, Ouedraogo told AFP.

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The health ministry said in addition to the vulnerable, the first phase would target health workers and “candidates for the pilgrimage to Mecca”.

Co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Covax programme aims to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.

It brings UN agencies including the World Health Organization and the UN children’s agency UNICEF together with sovereign donors and the private sector to provide low-income countries with significant supplies regardless of their ability to pay.

Burkina Faso initially intends to vaccinate three percent of a population estimated at more than 20 million.

Eventually a total of nearly 10 million Burkinabes are expected to get jabs.

Burkina Faso, which has reported 13,430 coronavirus cases and 166 deaths, is one of few nations in West Africa that has yet to launch a vaccination drive.

Also Monday, a health official in Niger told AFP it has “loaned” 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Ivory Coast, whose vaccination drive is stepping up and may otherwise have faced shortfalls.

The doses were handed over in a ceremony on Sunday in the capital Niamey attended by Ivory Coast’s consul in Niger as well as Ivorian health officials.

Ivory Coast will pay back the loan once it receives an expected shipment, the head of the Ivorian delegation said over radio.

Niger has so far received 780,000 doses of vaccines including 400,000 Sinopharm doses donated by China, 355,000 AstraZeneca through the Covax programme, and an Indian donation of 25,000 doses, also of AstraZeneca.

Niger has been relatively unscathed by Covid with 5,410 cases including 192 deaths, while Ivory Coast, with a population of 25 million, has recorded 47,000 cases and more than 300 deaths.

AFP