Cameroon has received a donation of 200,000 doses of Chinese-made Covid-19 vaccine, Sinopharm, after it suspended the approval of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines over safety concerns.
The AstraZeneca vaccines are being distributed under the World Health Organization-backed Covax initiative, but there have been several reports linking it to rare cases of blood clots.
Cameroon’s Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute received the vaccines from Chinese Ambassador Wang Yingwu on Sunday night after a special Air France flight delivered the first consignment at the Yaoundé-Nsimalen International Airport.
This is Cameroon’s first vaccine consignment. The country is hard-hit by the second wave of the pandemic.
Dr Ngute said the delivery of the vaccines is testimony of the good relations between Yaoundé and Beijing.
“We know that even China itself is in need of this vaccine, so, to have sent us 200,000 doses is a sign of friendship and a laudable act. On behalf of the Head of State, I want to sincerely thank the Chinese government and the Chinese people,” he said.
Dr Ngute said the Public Health ministry will immediately begin dispatching the vaccines and priority will be given to frontline health personnel.
Some 243 accredited vaccination centres have already been created across the country, according to vaccination agency, the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI).
Ambassador Wang said the Sinopharm vaccine “is very efficient,” and had already been administered to “millions of Chinese” nationals.
“The vaccine is also being used in more than 60 foreign countries,” he said.
Cameroon had been scheduled to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines late last month but halted the plan with the Public Health ministry saying it was a “precaution.”
Public Health Minister Manaouda Malachie said in a tweet then that the side effects of the vaccine were under investigation in Europe and the Scientific Council was going to advise on its use following conclusions of the investigation.
“I have submitted the matter to the Scientific Council for advice. The expectation is that we will not use this vaccine while there are still doubts about its effects,” he tweeted.
Cameroon reported its first Covid-19 case in March last year. According to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, by April 11, the country had recorded a total of 61,731 confirmed cases, 56,926 recoveries and 919 deaths.