KHARTOUM, SUDAN – Sudan this week launched its COVID-19 vaccination campaign, after receiving its first shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine earlier this month through the global COVAX initiative for equitable vaccine distribution in developing countries.
Officials are giving priority to the elderly and to health care workers, most of whom have been working without adequate personal protective equipment since the pandemic began a year ago. Scores of health care workers have contracted the virus themselves and lost their lives while caring for others
Dalia Idrees, a member of Sudan’s coronavirus emergency committee, says the COVAX initiative will provide Sudan with enough vaccine to cover 20% of the population.
As there is competition to receive the vaccine, the priority is for front-line workers in all Sudanese states, including isolation centers, pharmacies, hospitals and primary health care centers in all public, private and military sectors without any exceptions, Idrees said.
At least 60 health care workers have died since a second wave of COVID hit Sudan in December.
But some health care professionals feel optimistic with the start of vaccinations.
Dr. Hanana Mohamed, who has been treating COVID patients in Sudanese hospitals, says all of the front-line doctors, nurses and workers are in danger of getting infected with COVID. She called the start of vaccination ‘a very big step’ in her country’s efforts to defeat the coronavirus.
Another physician, Dr. Abeer Othman, thinks the vaccine will give health care workers a much-needed lift.
She says the vaccination campaign is encouraging for front-line workers, especially those in isolation centers after they suffering for a long time struggling with the coronavirus. The vaccine, she said, will motivate health care workers to defeat indications increasing number of cases that seem to be indicative of a third wave spreading in the country.
The Sudanese Ministry of Health warned of a such third wave this week, noting an increase in respiratory diseases and suspected COVID cases.
Sudan has registered nearly 29,000 cases of coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic last year, with just over 1,900 deaths.
Sudan received an initial 820,000 vaccine doses last week. The country will eventually receive 3.4 million doses, provided through the COVAX program.