Ethiopia to Roll Out First COVID-19 vaccines on Saturday

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The Ministry of Health (MoH) has announced that the first COVID-19 vaccines will be given starting from Saturday, March 13, 2021.

The nation received its first 2.2 million doses of vaccine against the coronavirus on Sunday. The doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, were allocated under the UN-led Covax initiative, which is working to facilitate vaccine access for poorer countries.

According to the Ministry, during vaccination, priority will be given to those with high priority of exposure to the virus, such as health workers, older people, people with existing health conditions, and those engaged in the transport sector.

Ethiopia has secured nine million doses of COVID-19 vaccines until April and hopes to inoculate at least a fifth of its 110 million people by the end of the year.

The Ministry had stated the country would need 13 billion Ethiopian birr ($328 million) for vaccines and related expenses, which will be covered by the government and international donations.

Ethiopia is not doing any procurement of doses independently but only through the COVAX facility. COVAX is co-led by the GAVI alliance, which secures vaccines for poor countries, the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the U.N. Children’s Fund.

Earlier this month, COVAX said it had allocated at least 330 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for poorer countries and will aim to deliver these and many millions more in the first half of 2021.

Ethiopia has so far reported 168,335 cases of Covid-19, the fifth-highest total in Africa and the highest in East Africa, while 2451 have died from the virus.

Over the past month, cases have risen by 12 percent on average each week, and deaths have risen by 37 percent on average each week, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).