The Indian Ocean archipelago of the Seychelles began vaccinating its population against the coronavirus Sunday, the first African nation to do so.
The country’s president, Wavel Ramkalawan, was the first to receive the jab, an event broadcast on live television at a hospital in the capital Victoria. Several dozen other public figures joined him.
“It’s exactly as if I was getting any vaccine,” he said, encouraging all the people of the island nation to get the injection.
The country is using the Chinese vaccine developed by the Chinese pharma giant Sinopharm with its subsidiary the China National Biotec Group (CNBG).
Health Minister Peggy Vidot said Thursday that the country had received a donation of 50,000 doses of the vaccine from the United Arab Emirates.
Health workers will start being vaccinated on Monday, and then people aged over 65, followed by distribution to the rest of the population.
The Seychelles hopes to vaccinate 70 percent of its population within two to three months, at a rate of 1,000 per day.
The archipelago of 115 mostly uninhabited islands and islets has a population of 98,000, and initially appeared to have staved off the pandemic, initiating a swift lockdown in April last year which was lifted a month later with only 11 cases recorded.
However cases have jumped since December, with a total of 508 now recorded, one of which was fatal.
The number of daily cases is rising, with 57 recorded on Saturday.
Ramkalawan said the country was also expecting delivery at the end of January of another 50,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, a donation from the Indian government.