Ivory Coast becomes the second country to benefit from the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility, a program meant to ensure fairer distribution amid a global scramble for the vaccine against the pandemic.
The country on Friday at the commercial capital Abidjan received a shipment of 504,000 COVID-19 doses.
By the end of this year, COVAX plans to deliver nearly 2 billion doses to over 90 low- and middle-income countries, hoping to level a playing field that has seen wealthier nations vaccinate millions while comparatively few have received shots in poorer parts of the world.
The first batch had earlier arrived in Ghana on Wednesday.
The plan should provide coverage for up to 20% of countries’ populations. But it will not be enough to reach herd immunity and effectively contain the virus, forcing African countries to also look to bilateral agreements, donations and an African Union procurement plan.
And while many countries will receive the COVAX shots for free, they have to pay for distribution and community outreach.
“You want to make sure that the right regulatory approval, the right cold storage is there and everything else, otherwise you risk having things not work,” said Seth Berkley, chief executive of the GAVI vaccines alliance, which leads COVAX with the World Health Organization and other partners.
Ivory Coast with a population of 25 million, has recorded around 35,650 coronavirus cases and 188 deaths.