Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, Minister of Health and Social Action, has received the first dose before a cohort of cameramen and photographers. “This historic day must be written in golden letters in our history. Senegal is one of the seven countries, among the 54 on the African continent, to have started vaccination against Covid-19,” Mr. Sarr said.
He also stressed that Senegal, “like many countries, could simply wait for the Covax Initiative to receive its quota and start the vaccination.” But, he went on, “President Macky Sall wanted the process to begin right away, as part of his own initiative (and) with national resources.”
To date, Senegal has acquired “200,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine” produced by a Chinese laboratory and the effectiveness rate of which is close to 80%. The priority targets selected by the Senegalese government are front-line health workers, people living with co-morbidities and those aged over 60 years.
According to Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, the mass campaign is coming soon: “The Head of State is finalizing our commercial relationship with Russia so that we will have the Sputnik V vaccine as soon as possible. During the month of March, Senegal will also receive its first batch of the Covax Initiative.”
In Senegal, the first case of Covid-19 was spotted on March 2, 2020. Almost a year later, the virus spread throughout the national territory with a cumulative 33,342 cases and 832 deaths. As part of the deployment of the precious vaccine, the President of the Republic attaches particular importance to two principles, which are fairness and transparency.
“The first principle has allowed us to bring the vaccine to the 14 regions of Senegal. For the second, it is absolutely necessary to respect the set priority targets,” the minister added.
This is why “a National Commission for Immunization Monitoring and Control has been set up at the Ministry of Health. At the territorial level, the governors will take all the necessary measures,” the Minister of Health and Social Action explained.
Senegal, which shares borders with Guinea Bissau and The Gambia, plans to offer these two countries 10 percent of its batch of doses delivered by Sinopharm. In absolute value, these amount to 20,000 doses. “We are in an environment where our countries are interdependent, because we are linked by geography and history,” Mr. Sarr explained.
In recent months, the contamination curve has forced the government to introduce a curfew in the regions of Dakar and Thies (west). In addition, the English variant is present in Senegal, which led the former Minister of Tourism and Air Transport to claim that “vaccination is one thing, but abiding by the preventive/protection measures is fundamental. You absolutely have to wear a face mask, wash your hands regularly, respect physical distancing and avoid gatherings.''
Ultimately, Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr is sure that “compliance with preventive measures, combined with a proactive vaccination policy will allow us to interrupt the chain of transmission.”
To set an example, Aissata Tall Sall, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mamadou Talla, Minister of National Education, Ndeye Saly Diop Dieng, Minister of Women, Family, Gender and Child Protection, Pr. Moussa Seydi, head of the Infectious Diseases Department of the Fann Teaching Hospital in Dakar, El Hadj Oumar Diene, the Secretary general of the Imams and Ulemas of Senegal, Father Gerard Diene, Vicar general of the Archdiocese of Dakar and Mansour Mbaye, President of the Association of Traditional Communicators, have all been vaccinated.