Kenya

DRC to return AstraZeneca vaccines to Unicef

DRC to return AstraZeneca vaccines to Unicef

Vials of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and a syringe in Paris on March 11, 2021.

Photo credit: Joel Saget | AFP

The Democratic Republic of Congo says it will return to the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) a total of 1.3 million doses of the 1.7 million it received, for redistribution to other African countries.

Susie Villeneuve, Unicef regional advisor for Health Systems Strengthening in West and Central Africa, said the decision was made to ensure usage of the vaccines before the expiry date on June 24.

The DRC has not issued a vaccination plan to support a campaign of this scale and has an insufficient number of vaccination sites, which will hinder “access to this vaccine,” the official said.

“Ghana, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Madagascar and the Comoros are among the possible recipients of the Congolese lot,” Ms Villeneuve suggested during a video conference in Ghana’s capital Accra on Tuesday.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, vaccination operations against Covid-19 have been slowing down since the official launch of the campaign on April 19. In one week, only 1,700 people had received the first dose, the Ministry of Health said.

AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in the DRC two months ago, but fear of side effects had delayed their launch.