DRC Finally Launches COVID-19 Vaccinations After Investigating Concerns About AstraZeneca

Africa, Ghana

Six weeks after receiving 1.7 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from COVAX, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) finally started to vaccinate people on Monday.

The delay followed concerns about the safety of the vaccine amid reports about possible links between the vaccine and blood clotting.

In a bid to build public confidence, Health Minister Eteni Longondo became one of the first people to receive the vaccine at Kinshasa University’s medical school. The European Union’s Ambassador to the DRC, Jean-Marc Chataigner, and UN Humanitarian Affairs Coordinator David McLachlan-Karr were also vaccinated.

The rollout was initially due to start on 15 March.

Interior Minister Gilbert Kankonde said last week that the country’s medical experts were satisfied that the vaccine posed no danger to citizens.

“The vaccination will be voluntary and priority will be given to healthcare personnel, vulnerable people, those with chronic illnesses and all those who are greatly exposed while carrying out their work,” Kankonde said.

The country of more than 80 million people has received 1.7 million doses of AstraZeneca through COVAX, a World Health Organization-backed effort to procure and distribute inoculations to poor countries. In addition, India has also donated 50,000 doses to the country.

The vast central African country has officially registered 28,956 cases of COVID-19, with 745 deaths, since the start of the pandemic last year.

Kankonde added that the country would also ease its curfew, currently between 9pm to 5am, to 10pm – 4am in provinces with low caseloads.

According to official statistics, the 80-million strong country has only recorded 28,665 infections and 745 deaths.

In early April, UN peacekeepers from the Southern Sector at Democratic Republic of Congo received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine from a donation from the Indian government. Other UN agency staff members are expected to start being vaccinated from today.


Image Credits: WHO.

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