China to donate 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Congo Republic

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labelled with a "Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

BRAZZAVILLE (Reuters) - China will donate 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Congo Republic and forgive $13 million in public debt, its ambassador to the Central African country said on Thursday.

Ambassador Ma Fulin announced the measures after a meeting with Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso. He did not say which Chinese-developed vaccine would be provided.

The doses are enough to vaccinate 50,000 of Congo’s 5.1 million people. Congo, which has recorded 8,060 infections and 122 coronavirus-related deaths, has been allocated 420,000 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine for the first half of this year under the global COVAX vaccine-sharing facility.

As lower income countries struggle to obtain doses, China is aiming to cultivate goodwill through so-called vaccine diplomacy. It said on Monday that it was providing vaccine aid to 13 countries globally and planned to help a further 38.

Ma said the Chinese government would also forgive all public Congolese debt that came due before the end of 2020, an estimated $13 million. China offered similar relief to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo last month.

Reporting by Christian Elion; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Alexandra Hudson