Algeria symbolically launched its COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Saturday in the city where the country’s first case of coronavirus infection was confirmed in March.
A 65-year-old pensioner received the first shot of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine at a hospital in the town of Blida, about 40 kilometers southwest of the capital, Algiers, in the presence of health authorities.
“Every effort has been made to ensure the proper expansion of the vaccination campaign on national territory,” said Health Minister Abderrahmane Benbouzid.
Vaccines will begin to be administered in all regions of the country on Sunday. The campaign will start with healthcare professionals, the elderly and other vulnerable populations.
Algeria received its first shipment of vaccines on Friday at Boufarik’s military airport, west of Algiers. Authorities did not say how many came, even though the government had said they had ordered a first batch of 500,000 doses.
The government said it was also negotiating the acquisition of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Algeria has lost at least 2,884 lives to the coronavirus pandemic and confirmed more than 106,000 cases.
Algeria has been frustrated by repeated broken promises of an imminent COVID vaccine rollout. Concerns are also growing over Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who is recovering for more than a month in an undiscovered location in Germany after suffering COVID side effects.