BANJUL, 11 March 2021 – Authorities in Malawi, Rwanda and The Gambia have launched COVID-19 vaccinations, the latest African countries to kick-off inoculations.
In each of the three countries, their Presidents: Adama Barrow (The Gambia), Paul Kagame (Rwanda) and Lazarus Chakwera (Malawi) were among the first citizens to roll up their sleeves and be administered jabs at public, televised ceremonies.
In Rwanda, President Kagame brought along First Lady Janet and both of them received their jabs Thursday at Kigali’s King Faisal Hospital.
Rwanda is the first African nation to have put in place the deep freezing facilities needed in order to safely store the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is being administered across the country, alongside doses of Oxford-AstraZeneva vaccine delivered by the COVAX initiative.
Malawi’s President Chakwera received his first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the eastern city of Zomba.
He told reporters after that he chose to be among the first to be vaccinated to show that the vaccines are safe.
“As a show of good faith, I and others on this platform have volunteered to be the first to be vaccinated here so that you can see that the vaccine is safe,” Chakwera told onlookers.
They included a number of diplomats, members of the clergy, religious leaders, and prominent local politicians along with journalists
Former Malawian President Joyce Banda and her husband also received their vaccines Thursday, as did the Speaker of the Malawian Parliament Catherine Hara.
In The Gambia, a number of top officials were also publicly vaccinated Thursday, as countries push back on misinformation about the vaccines.
Those vaccinated publicly Thursday in The Gambia included the country’s vice-president, the Imam and the Catholic Bishop of the capital Banjul, and the World Health Organization’s Gambia representative.
Launch of nationwide coronavirus vaccinations in The Gambia has been made possible by the delivery under the COVAX initiative of 36,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
The groups prioritized among The Gambia’s 2.1 million inhabitants are the same as those getting the vaccines first in Malawi and Rwanda: the elderly, healthcare workers, people with underlying health conditions and essential workers such as teachers, police and other armed and security officials.
Malawi launched its vaccination campaign relying on the first consignment of 360,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which the southern African nation of 1.4 million inhabitants received last week from the COVAX initiative.
Malawi is expected to receive 1.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine under the COVAX agreement.