Khartoum — The first batch of 828,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine arrived at Khartoum airport on Wednesday. Sudan's Health Minister, Dr Omar Elnagieb, confirmed at a press conference that the vaccine will be distributed free of charge, giving priority to medical staff, police, the elderly, and those over 45 years of age with chronic conditions.
Sudan is the first country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to receive vaccines via COVAX Facility, a coalition co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi, the Global Vaccines Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), that ensures equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to countries regardless of their income. The vaccines were delivered with UNICEF support.
According to a joint statement by the COVAX partners yesterday, the delivery follows the arrival of 4.5 metric tons of syringes and safety boxes, part of a Gavi-funded and supported global stockpile, that UNICEF delivered on behalf of the COVAX Facility on February26, "critical for the safe and effective vaccination". WHO has worked with national authorities to put a vaccination strategy in place that includes training vaccinators, ensuring vaccine safety, and surveillance for adverse effects.
'The vaccines are a critical part of controlling the spread of the virus in Sudan and eventually return to normalcy' - Health Minister Dr Omar Elnagieb
Elnagieb urged those eligible to register and get vaccinated as soon as they get an appointment. "The vaccines are a critical part of controlling the spread of the virus in Sudan and eventually return to normalcy," he said.
Prime Minster Abdullah Hamdok praised the efforts and degree of high coordination that took place during the past period between the teams of the Ministry of Health, the COVAX mechanism, and UNICEF to secure the arrival of the vaccines.
The PM directed all jurisdictions to initiate the process of delivering and arranging the vaccination process to all target groups as soon as possible.
'Our hope in recovery from the pandemic is through the vaccines' - Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF Sudan
Dr Dalia Idris, a member of the Technical Committee against COVID, explained that the programme initially aims to vaccinate 20 per cent of the total target.
Dr Nema Saeed Abid, who represents the World Health Organization in Sudan, stressed that the vaccines that arrived yesterday are safe vaccines approved through the WHO Emergency Use List for use in Sudan and other countries.
"Our hope in recovery from the pandemic is through the vaccines," Abdullah Fadil, representative of UNICEF Sudan, affirmed. "Vaccines have reduced the scourge of numerous infectious diseases, saved millions of lives and have effectively eliminated many life-threatening diseases."