Mali picks AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for 4.2 million people

A test tube labelled "vaccine" in front of an AstraZeneca logo in this illustration taken. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Mali has chosen to use the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in its plan to initially immunise 4.2 million people, targeting medical staff, the elderly and those with comorbidities, the health minister said on Friday.

Minister Fanta Siby said the vaccines, which unlike some others do not need to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, would arrive at the end of March.

“The vaccine that Mali has chosen, like most African countries, is the vaccine that keeps at +2 and +8 degrees,” Siby told reporters.

On Thursday the government said it wanted to buy more than 8.4 million doses of coronavirus vaccine, costing over 31 billion CFA francs ($57 million), with financial assistance from global vaccine alliance GAVI.

GAVI co-runs the COVAX alliance with the World Health Organization to secure fair access to COVID-19 vaccines for developing countries.

Mali, like other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, is battling a second wave of coronavirus infections, although its infection rate has decreased from a peak in early January, data compiled by Reuters shows.

The West African nation has so far recorded 7,911 COVID-19 cases and 320 deaths.

Reporting by Tiémoko Diallo; Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Chris Reese and Angus MacSwan