Seychelles to start vaccinations with Chinese-made Sinopharm

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The Indian Ocean island nation of the Seychelles says it will begin administering COVID-19 vaccinations on Sunday with the 50,000 doses it has of the Chinese-developed Sinopharm vaccine.

Health Minister Peggy Vidot told reporters on Thursday that political leaders will be first to be vaccinated, then health workers, the Seychelles News Agency reported. President Wavel Ramkalawan has said he will be the first to get the vaccine.

The Sinopharm vaccines are a donation from the United Arab Emirates, the news agency reported. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is visiting the Seychelles on Friday at the end of a five-country African tour.

Next in line for vaccinations will be essential workers, then people with a chronic illness, then people over age 65, the news agency reported. The health minister said children under 18 will not be in this first round of vaccinations.

The government has said the vaccinations are not mandatory, but public health commissioner Jude Gedeon told reporters the aim is to vaccinate some 70% of the population to achieve herd immunity, the news agency reported.

The Seychelles has a population of nearly 100,000. The country has had just 420 confirmed virus cases including one death.

China late last month authorized the Sinopharm vaccine, its first homegrown COVID-19 vaccine, for general use, a day after the state-owned company announced that preliminary data from late-stage trials had shown it to be 79.3% effective.

The Sinopharm vaccine, like the AstraZeneca one, could be easier for countries around the world to handle since they can be stored at normal fridge temperatures.

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