KINSHASA, 28 April 2021 – The United Nations is moving more than a million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from DR Congo to other African countries.
The UN children’s agency (UNICEF) is taking the lead in redistributing the vaccines in an effort to avoid them expiring before they are put into arms.
UNICEF says about 1.3 million doses out of the 1.7 million doses will be sent, among others, to four African countries willing to administer them: Angola, Comoros, Ghana, and Senegal.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca doses were provided last March to Kinshasa via the global vaccine initiative, COVAX, but authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo decided to delay inoculation programs using Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.
DR Congo joined several countries in Europe and a few others in Africa who suspended vaccinations using Oxford-AstraZeneca doses over concerns that they have been linked to rate blood clots.
With only 1,265 people vaccinated, DR Congo suspended its vaccination program which began last April 19 but stopped almost immediately.
The 1.3 million of the 1.7 million doses being redistributed from DR Congo to other countries are marked for expiry on 24 June 2021.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised countries to continue administering the vaccines for up to 36 months after the expiry date marked on the vaccine packages.
The advice came last week from WHO, as the global health leader tried to persuade the governments of Malawi and South Sudan from destroying nearly 70,000 of the vaccines on claims that they would expire before they could be administered.
As of Wednesday, public health officials in DR Congo had confirmed 29,768 COVID-19 cases.
Some 763 people in the country have died from complications following their infection with the virus while 26,172 people previously infected with the virus have fully recovered from it, according to data published by the World Health Organization and the Africa Centers for Disease Control.