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Sudan, Rwanda Receive Shipments of COVID-19 Vaccines

AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses are received by airport workers in Kigali, Rwanda, March 3, 2021.

Sudan and Rwanda received their first shipments of COVID-19 vaccines Wednesday, according to the U.N.

Sudan received the initial 820,000 doses out of a total of 3,400,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine secured by COVAX, a global program to distribute vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, and UNICEF. Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s office posted news of the shipment in a tweet.

Rwanda received 102,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, making the country the first on the continent to get access to that vaccine as part of COVAX’s distribution of 1.2 million doses, according to UNICEF.

The vaccine shipment to Rwanda “is part of groundbreaking efforts by COVAX to deliver close to 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines globally in 2021,” UNICEF said in a statement. The U.N. body tasked with providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children said it aimed to reach at least 1.3 billion people in the 92 economies eligible for support through the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment.

The Sudanese prime minister’s office said it planned to give priority in vaccinations to medical staff and the elderly.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Sudan had reported 30,479 cases of coronavirus infections and 1,895 deaths since the beginning the of the pandemic, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

According to UNICEF, Rwanda’s extensive rollout program will inoculate about “30 percent of the population by the end of 2021 and reach 60 percent of the total population by the end of 2022,” with “health workers, other frontline workers, the elderly, those with noncommunicable diseases, refugees, inmates and teachers” first in line to get it.

“The first arrivals of COVID-19 vaccine doses in Rwanda represents the start of equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide,” said Rachel Belt, senior country manager for Rwanda at GAVI, a public–private global health partnership seeking to increase access to immunization in poor countries.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Rwanda had reported 19,111 cases of coronavirus infections and 265 deaths since the beginning the of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins.