Rwandan government has had a two-year plan to vaccinate at least 60 percent of its population, equivalent to about 8 million people, to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19 in the country, Tharcisse Mpunga, Minister of State in the Ministry of Health in charge of primary healthcare, told Xinhua on Friday.
The government plans to gradually increase the coverage of vaccination to 20 percent and then 60 percent, but is also trying to acquire more vaccines for the whole population, Mpunga said in a telephone interview.
The discussion for vaccines at the African Union level is in good progress and the government is engaging different vaccine manufacturers in providing vaccines through different ways, he said.
Presently, Rwandan Ministry of Health has ordered 1 million vaccine doses for emergency vaccination through COVAX, the WHO-led global initiative aimed to ensure rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, for frontline workers such as health workers, and high-risk groups, including the elderly and those with comorbidities, with the first batch of vaccines likely to arrive in the first week of February, he added.
The delivery of vaccines is earlier than previously estimated due to the sustained push from Africa on vaccine manufacturing companies and increased production capacity, according to the state minister, adding that the earlier delivery will be fundamental for Rwanda and it hopes that it will reduce the virus transmission and related mortality.
The central African nation has seen an “unprecedented rise in cases, deaths and transmission rates in the community” recently, while in Kigali, a surge in new cases made the government reinstate a lockdown in the city from last Tuesday until a review by the cabinet at least after 15 days.
As of Thursday, Rwanda has recorded a total of 14,529 cases, with 9,234 recoveries and 186 deaths.