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04.03.2021 Sudan

Sudan receives first batch of coronavirus vaccines

By AFP
UN staff supervise the arrival of the first batch of coronavirus vaccines in Sudan on Wednesday.  By ASHRAF SHAZLY (AFP)
LISTEN MAR 4, 2021
UN staff supervise the arrival of the first batch of coronavirus vaccines in Sudan on Wednesday. By ASHRAF SHAZLY (AFP)

Sudan received its first coronavirus vaccines Wednesday and will begin inoculation of frontline medical staff next week, health officials said.

The first consignments which arrived at Khartoum airport comprise 828,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine.

Sudan has secured a total of 3.4 million doses, which are expected to arrive in the coming months through COVAX, a UN-led initiative that provides jabs to poor countries.

Inoculation of around 414,000 medical staff across the country will begin "next week," Dalia Idris, a health ministry official coordinating vaccine deployment, told AFP.

"The vaccine will be available for free," health minister Omar al-Naguib earlier told a press conference in Khartoum, noting that frontline medics and the elderly will be the first to get the jab.

More batches are expected to arrive, so that by the end of September there are jabs for 20 percent of Sudan's 40 million population.

The virus has so far infected more than 28,500 in Sudan and killed nearly 1,900, according to official data.

Sudan is navigating a rocky political transition and a deepening economic crisis following the April 2019 ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

Wednesday's announcement came nearly a month after Sudan unveiled a new cabinet.

Galloping inflation and chronic hard currency shortages have piled pressure on a population that has long struggled to afford basic necessities.

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