Rwanda in line to get over a million Covid-19 vaccine doses from COVAX

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Rwanda is in line to get over 1.1 million Covid-19 vaccine doses in the first and second quarter of 2021 from the COVAX facility, a global initiative that aims at accelerating fair and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines for every country.

On February 3, COVAX published its first interim distribution forecast for the vaccines, providing information on the projected early availability of doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Q1 of 2021, and the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine candidate in the first half of 2021 to the facility participants, among which is Rwanda.

In the forecast, Rwanda has been allocated 996,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and 102,960 of the Pfizer one. According to information from COVAX, the published distribution for AstraZeneca vaccines is indicative, based on current communication of estimated availability from manufacturers. “In this regard, it is likely the distribution may need to be adjusted in light of circumstances that are difficult to anticipate and variables that are constantly evolving,” read a statement from COVAX.

“Nevertheless, COVAX partners believe the publication of this information, which has now been shared with all economies participating in the COVAX Facility, marks an important first step in providing governments and public health leaders with the information they need to put in place practical steps for the provision of early doses and a successful national roll-out of vaccines,” it added.

The publication is intended to provide interim guidance to facility participants – offering a planning scenario to enable preparations for the final allocation of the number of doses in the first rounds of vaccine distribution.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has also not yet been granted World Health Organisation’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL), although evaluation processes are currently underway.

For the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, COVAX currently anticipates fewer doses (1.2 million) in Q1 of 2021, and so, less has been allocated to the facility participants.

However, information from the initiative says that additional volumes of doses of the vaccine will be available in the second quarter and beyond, per the signed advance purchase agreement between The Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) and Pfizer-BioNTech for up to 40 million doses.

Meanwhile, the Rwanda Biomedical Centre told this newspaper earlier in January that the country is not only ready to receive its first batch of vaccine doses, but it is also ready to immediately begin the vaccination exercise. When the vaccine comes, the first phase is of the vaccination exercise is expected to benefit people at high risk of the virus, for example, front-line workers in healthcare and people above 65. Others to benefit are those whose immunity can be easily compromised like those with cancer, diabetes, HIV, and other serious diseases.

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