Arrival of 250,000 Moderna vaccines in the DRC is a breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19

The new shipment offers Congolese people another safe and effective vaccine

06 September 2021
Boxes of vaccines on the airport tarmac

KINSHASA, 6 SEPTEMBER 2021 – The arrival of 250,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine – donated by the U.S government through COVAX – has been hailed as a breakthrough in the battle against the COVID-19 epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The shipment which arrived in the capital Kinshasa on Monday has been described as a big step in the fight against COVID-19 in the DRC, providing additional access to safe and effective vaccines, and boosting the confidence of Congolese people in the overall vaccine process.

President Tshisekedi said in March that he wanted to offer a variety of vaccines for his country. The president’s endorsement of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines is important in a country where scepticism about the dangers posed by COVID-19, even its existence, persists and where vaccination rates remain low not only against COVID-19 but also against other dangerous diseases like measles.

The new doses will eventually allow more than 120,000 people to be vaccinated with two doses in the coming weeks in 15 provinces identified by the national Expanded Program on Immunization (Programme Elargi de Vaccination - PEV).

The Moderna doses will be kept in cold temperatures in Kinshasa before they are transported to other vaccination points across the country.

“The US donation means that thousands of Congolese will receive their jabs and be protected against COVID-19. We believe the new vaccines will be widely accepted in DRC where UNICEF, its partners and other aid agencies campaigns have repeatedly emphasized the benefits of being vaccinated worldwide to protect people against COVID-19,” said Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF DRC representative.

The shipment received today will give health authorities until 9 January 2022 to distribute and inject the Moderna doses. This first donation is expected to be followed by a second shipment in the coming days of an additional 250,000 Pfizer doses. 

UNICEF has been working around the clock to facilitate transportation, organize mass communication and strengthen the cold chain across this vast country, which is about the size of western Europe.

In March more than 1.7 million AZ doses arrived in Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC. They were shipped to the country through COVAX, an alliance comprising the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) working in partnership with UNICEF as a key implementing partner.

The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines is an historic step towards ensuring equitable distribution of these vaccines worldwide. The March and September deliveries are part of the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history.

UNICEF is supporting the PEV to reach communities throughout the country with the Moderna doses.  

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Jean-Jacques Simon
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