DAKAR (Reuters) - Senegal received 324,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine early on Wednesday as the COVAX global distribution scheme accelerates delivery of the shots to the world's poorest countries.
The doses will add to the west African country's stock of 200,000 vaccines it bought from China's Sinopharm to launch the first phase of its inoculation campaign.
Around 40,000 people, including President Macky Sall have received the Sinopharm vaccine since the start of the campaign last week.
Senegal is eligible for around 1.3 million doses for free in the first wave of disbursement from the COVAX progamme, which is backed by the World Health Organization and GAVI vaccine alliance to provide vaccines to poor and middle-income countries.
The country has recorded more than 35,000 cases of COVID-19 to date, including nearly 900 deaths.
Senegal aims to inoculate around 90% of a targeted 3.5 million people in the first phase of its vaccination campaign, including health workers and high-risk individuals between the ages of 19 and 60, by the end of 2021. It has a population of around 16 million.
COVAX aims to distribute 237 million of the AstraZeneca doses to 142 countries over the next three months to help countries curb the spread of the virus.
Rwanda is due to receive on Wednesday the first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 shots dispatched to Africa under COVAX.
Besides Senegal, several countries in Africa have received their first lot of the vaccines from the programme this week, including Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Angola, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Gambia.
(Writing by Cooper Inveen; Editing by Bate Felix and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)