NAIROBI, Kenya — The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the first 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 are expected to arrive next week for distribution in some 20 countries on the continent.
The doses are the first of some 7 million coming from the Serum Institute in India.
Africa CDC Director John Nkengasong and colleagues did not immediately say which countries on the 54-nation continent will receive the first shipment, but Nkengasong said Thursday that health workers will get the shots.
“We are very excited,” he said.
Africa is waiting for vaccines from the global COVAX initiative, which has said it would supply 25% of those needed for the continent's 1.3 billion people. As deliveries fall behind schedule, African nations are scrambling to secure vaccines from various sources.
Speed is key, as eight African nations have confirmed cases of the coronavirus variant first identified in Britain and at least 10 have cases of the variant first identified in South Africa. The African continent is on the brink of recording 100,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19.
During a separate briefing on Thursday, the World Health Organization’s Africa director, Matshidiso Moeti, said, “We have arrived at the moment now when African countries are going to be in a couple of weeks, I anticipate, receiving significant supplies of vaccines.”