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Rwanda vaccinates half a million people against Covid-19

Friday August 06 2021
Covid vaccine Rwanda.

More than half a million people in Rwanda have received the full dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. PHOTO | FILE | NMG

By ANGE ILIZA

More than half a million people in Rwanda have received the full dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The country plans to fully vaccinate 1.5 million people by September this year and 60 percent of its 12.6 million population by June 2022.

The nationwide vaccination campaign that kicked off on August 2, raised the number of fully vaccinated people to 564,951, with another 44,584 people given their first dose, as reported by the Ministry of Health on Thursday.

People above the age of 40, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and taxi motorcyclists are now among the priority group.

The vaccine is accessible at all health centers in the country, two designated sites in Kigali and 5 private clinics. Participation has been high with around 10,000 people vaccinated every day.

According to the Director General of Rwanda Biomedical Center, Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, Rwanda has been receiving a dozen thousands of Covid-19 vaccines from various partners in the last two months.

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On August 2, the country received 200,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Dr Nsanzimana did not clarify the source of the vaccines.

He said, in a televised interview with Rwanda’s national broadcaster, that Rwanda expects to receive more vaccine doses.

According to the Minister of Health, Rwanda has purchased 3.5 million more doses of Covid-19 vaccine that are expected to arrive in Kigali soon.

On Thursday, the African Union announced the start of monthly shipments of vaccines acquired by the AU’s African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) to the member states.

The shipments destined to different African countries started on August 5 with 6.4 million doses expected to be shipped in August. Monthly shipments will continue with a target of delivering around 50 million doses before the end of December 2021.

According to the Union’s announcement, by January 2022, the number of vaccines being released will be in excess of 25 million per month. This comes as a result of an agreement signed in March this year for the purchase of 220 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot Covid-19 vaccine with the potential to order an additional 180 million doses.

Rwanda, as an AU member country, is a beneficiary of this initiative.

In January, Rwanda secured an order of 2.6 million doses through the AVAT facility.

Rwanda started vaccination in March this year with AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines acquired through

Covax Initiative and, so far, around 5 percent of the population have been fully vaccinated.

In May, more than 100,000 people were vaccinated with vaccine doses donated by President Emmanuel Macron during his visit to Rwanda late May.

Rwanda has been experiencing a severe rise in Covid-19 infections since early June with an increase of over 120 percent in weeks. The severity of the current wave is attributed to the Delta variant that is said to be more contagious and deadlier than other variants.

As of August 5, Rwanda had a death toll of 860 people and 37 patients were in critical condition.

In 72,605 tests taken in the last seven days, 5,557 people tested positive. The country’s positivity rate stood at 5.2 percent.

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