DAKAR, Feb 17 - Senegal is expecting its firstdelivery of COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday after paying for200,000 doses from China's Sinopharm. Like other African countries that have struggled to procurevaccines, Senegal is still waiting for disbursements throughAfrican Union and World Health Organization-backed (WHO)programmes. In the meantime, some have turned to purchases or donationsfrom China. Despite a relatively late start compared to Westernproducers, China is ramping up efforts to distribute itsvaccines in Africa and elsewhere, some as direct aid. President Macky Sall will be at Dakar's airport for thearrival of the first doses from China in the afternoon, hisspokesman Ousmane Ba said. It was not clear how many doses would be in the firstshipment or when vaccinations might start. As a lower-middle income country, Senegal is eligible foraround 1.3 million doses for free in the first wave ofdisbursement from the WHO's COVAX programme. But shipments arenot expected to start until late February and most will arrivein March, the WHO said on Tuesday. Last week Senegal said it had paid a little over 2 billionCFA francs ($3.71 million) for the Sinopharm doses to kickstartits vaccination campaign this month. It aims to inoculate around 90% of a targeted 3.5 millionpeople, including health workers and high-risk individualsbetween the ages of 19 and 60 years old, by the end of 2021. It has so far recorded over 31,000 cases and 769 deaths fromCOVID-19. REUTERS
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