Africa, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Rwanda fully vaccinates 10% of population: WHO

Rwanda has so far received 3.3M doses of COVID-19 vaccines

James Tasamba   | 22.09.2021
Rwanda fully vaccinates 10% of population: WHO

KIGALI, Rwanda

Rwanda has fully vaccinated 10% of its 13 million population against COVID-19, reaching the September global target, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.

Health authorities in the Central African country launched a nationwide vaccination campaign on March 5, beginning with people from risk groups, including health personnel, frontline workers, and those older than 65 years or with underlying health conditions – before later expanding eligibility to adults 18 years and over.

In a statement released on Wednesday, WHO said building on the success of Rwanda’s routine immunization system, COVID-19 vaccination has been rolled out smoothly with minimal hesitancy.

“I am delighted at this significant achievement,” said Salla Ndoungou Ba, WHO representative ad interim in Rwanda.

“Rwanda has been a model of good practice in the region since the beginning of its vaccination program in March. I congratulate the Government of Rwanda and its partners for their sustained effort to protect the people of Rwanda against COVID-19,” she said.

The announcement came as the government further eased COVID-19 restrictions amid increasing vaccination.

A Cabinet meeting on Tuesday said bars will gradually reopen, nearly two years after they were shut.

The government also reduced curfew hours in the capital Kigali, allowing unrestricted movements from 4.00 a.m. to 11 p.m. local time, while businesses will be open until 10.00 p.m.

Rwanda has recorded a total of 95,503 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with 1,216 fatalities, according to official data.

Targets

In May, WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, set the global target of 10% of the populations of all countries to be vaccinated by the end of September in order to help turn the tide against the pandemic.

The global target was set at 40% by the end of December and 70% by mid-2022.

Rwanda has so far received around 3.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines – 1.1 million of which were from the COVAX Facility, a multilateral initiative aimed at guaranteeing global access to vaccines.

The country has administered 3.3 million doses and remains “committed to reach as many people as possible in each targeted group” with vaccine distribution facilitated by air, road and water to allow a simultaneous vaccination rollout countrywide, the statement said.

To address the shortage of vaccine supply which slowed down the vaccination pace from April to June, Rwanda engaged with vaccine manufacturers to access more vaccine doses through bilateral agreements while continuing its engagement with COVAX Facility, it said.

Almost 90% of high-income countries have now reached the 10% target, and more than 70% have reached the 40% target, according to WHO.

But only 14 countries in the African continent achieved the first target and three countries have achieved 40% target.

Due to operational bottlenecks and some measure of vaccine hesitancy, only 54 million people in Africa, or 4% of the population, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to WHO data.

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