Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - Gambian President Adama Barrow has said that the coronavirus infection rate stands close to five thousand cases in the country, hence the restrictions imposed recently.
President Barrow on Wednesday received the first jab as the West African nation began rolling out its COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
He said although most of those infected have recovered, unfortunately, over 150 deaths have been recorded countrywide.
“The pandemic has crossed all borders and boundaries of gender, age, status and other characteristics. Like other sectors, not even the frontline defenders in health or the security have been spared.
"Our national scenario reflects the global situation, with loss of loved ones, friends and citizens both in the country and the Diaspora,” he said.
Gambia last week received 36,000 vaccine doses from COVAX, a global alliance that provides vaccine access to low and middle-income countries.
The AstraZeneca vaccines were shipped by UNICEF on behalf of COVAX, from the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Also vaccinated were cabinet ministers, diplomatic corps, religious leaders and other stakeholders.
President Barrow said the pandemic has taken its toll on virtually everyone, emotionally, socially, economically or otherwise, noting that it is a relief, that suitable vaccines have been discovered, tested and approved by reliable experts.
He commended Global Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF and WHO for this important development and also commended President Macky Sall of Senegal for donating 10,000) doses of the Sino-Pharma vaccine.
In the same development, the World Bank has provided resources to procure up to 40% of the country’s vaccine requirement. It will complement the 20% already secured through the Covax arrangement. The first batch of this lot is available, and was rolled out on Wednesday.
Gambia’s Minister of Health, Dr. Lamin Samateh, described the vaccine rollout campaign as a “historic and momentous” occasion for Gambians.
He disclosed that the received 36,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses will cater for 18,000 individuals, who belong to the high risk group.
“The COVAX facility will provide vaccines for 20% of our population. This allocation will be able to vaccinate all persons aged 41 years and above, including the parity groups. This sums up to over 480,000 people,” he added.
Gordon Jonathan Lewis, UNICEF Country Representative in The Gambia, said Gambia was one of the first five countries to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The Gambia will receive a total of 156,000 doses before the end of May,” he said, adding that additional consignment will be received before the month of April.
Dr Desta Tiruneh, WHO Country Representative in The Gambia, said it’s a dream come true for The Gambia in the fight against COVID-19.
“COVID-19 is with us and will remain with us for some time to come,” he underlined.
He said one of the objectives of the COVAX facility is to have enough vaccines for 20% of all countries.
The arrival of the vaccine gives a great hope as it will help to vaccinate the most vulnerable to save lives and reduce the number of cases, he added.
-0- PANA MSS/AR 10March2021