China's first consignment of Coronavirus vaccine donation arrived in Cameroon on April 11, 2021and vaccination began the following day
Without wasting any time, Cameroon on April 12, 2021 offered its first Coronavirus jabs after receiving the donation from China the previous day. Some 200,000 doses of the Sinopharm Chinese-developed Covid-19 vaccine were received in the Cameroon capital at the Yaounde-Nsimalen International Airport late in the afternoon of Sunday, April 11, 2021. The powerful government delegation was led by the Prime Minister, Head of Government, Chief Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute, accompanied by the Chinese Ambassador to Cameroon, Wang Yingwu.
On Tuesday April 12, 2021, Public Health Minister, Malachie Manaouda, was amongst the first government officials to be publicly vaccinated against the deadly disease, using Sinopharm. This was later followed by the vaccination of frontline health staff in major health facilities and Covid-19 treatment centres in Yaounde. And so the immunization campaign has already been rolled out and is due to continue progressively in the regions.
Earlier the same morning of April 12, 2021, local media was awash with reports of the arrival of the Chinese vaccine donation. One paper, L'Oeil du Sahel, even reported on its cover page how the authorities had already concluded plans to send 48,030 doses of the new vaccine to be administered in Cameroon's three Northern administrative regions of Far North, North and Adamawa.
The coming days are therefore expected to be hectic for Cameroonian authorities. As frontline health staff and other vulnerable groups are mobilized to receive the vaccine. Meanwhile, officials say another consignment of Chinese vaccine donation is expected any time in the country.
Yet, the donation of the vaccine by China did not just come out of the blues! It was the fulfilment of a Chinese presidential promise and meticulous planning. Barely six months after the Coronavirus pandemic was declared by global health authorities, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his South African and Senegalese counterparts - Cyril Ramaphosa and Macky Sall respectively - initiated a parley at which Covid-19 was discussed by China and Africa.
Dubbed the "Extraordinary China-Africa Summit On Solidarity Against COVID-19," the video link conference on June 17, 2020 was attended amongst others by Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission; António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization.
"We pledge that once the development and deployment of COVID-19 vaccine is completed in China, African countries will be among the first to benefit," Xi Jinping said last year while addressing the gathering. Less than a year on, the commitment has been fulfilled - at least in the case of Cameroon. The video conference summit also discussed a joint response to the scourge, given the all-round havoc the disease had caused by June 2020 - and continues to cause across the globe until this day.
"In the face of COVID-19, China and Africa have withstood the test of a severe challenge. The Chinese people have put up a fierce fight and made enormous sacrifice to bring the situation in China under control. Still, we remain mindful of the risk of resurgence. In the same spirit, governments and peoples in Africa have put up a united front and, under the effective coordination by the African Union, have taken strong measures to effectively slow the spread of the virus. These are indeed hard-won results," Xi noted.
"In the face of COVID-19, China and Africa have offered mutual support and fought shoulder to shoulder with each other. China shall always remember the invaluable support Africa gave us at the height of our battle with the Coronavirus. In return, when Africa was struck by the virus, China was the first to rush in with assistance and has since stood firm with the African people," the Chinese leader underscored.er
According to him, the lessons so far learnt by China and Africa from the Covid-19 pandemic include "enhanced solidarity, strengthened friendship and mutual trust." "Both China and Africa face the formidable task of combating the virus while stabilizing the economy and protecting people's livelihoods. We must always put our people and their lives front and centre. We must mobilize necessary resources, stick together in collaboration, and do whatever it takes to protect people's lives and health and minimize the fallout of COVID-19," he cautioned.
Also last year, Xi Jinping promised that China was going to start - ahead of schedule - the construction of the Africa Centre for Disease Control, CDC headquarters, fully deliver the healthcare initiative adopted at the FOCAC Beijing Summit in 2018, and speed up the construction of China-Africa Friendship Hospitals and cooperation between paired-up Chinese and African hospitals.
To further cushion the impact of Covid-19, the Chinese President committed to strengthen Belt and Road cooperation, cancel Africa's debt, and work with the global community to extend the period of debt suspension for African countries under great economic stress.