By Omar Mohammed
NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya welcomed the arrival of over a million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday in its first batch under a global plan to ensure equitable distribution.
“We have received … machine guns, bazookas, and tanks to fight this war against COVID-19,” Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe exulted as the doses arrived at Nairobi’s main airport.
With fewer resources and tougher logistics than other regions, African nations are racing to secure the hundreds of million of doses needed to inoculate their populations against the disease and allow the safe reopening of economies.
Kenya, which has so far recorded 106,470 infections and 1,863 deaths from the virus, has seen a jump in the number of daily cases in the last two weeks.
Kenya’s roughly 400,000 health workers will take priority when vaccinations begin later this week, Kagwe said, before other essential workers like teachers and police.
The doses which arrived on Wednesday came from the Serum Institute of India and were the first batch of an initial allocation to Kenya of 3.56 million doses by the COVAX facility, the ministry of health said.
COVAX, which is led by the GAVI vaccines alliance along with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners, aims to deliver over 1.3 billion doses to 92 low- and middle-income countries, covering up to 20% of their populations.