By Elimane Ndao
Senegal will launch its Covid-19 vaccination campaign by March 2021, according to Elhadj Mamadou Ndiaye, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health.
“Senegal has prepared all its paperwork,” Mr. Ndiaye told Sahelien.com. “We are ready to receive the vaccine most likely in the first quarter or at the end of the first quarter of 2021. We will use the vaccine licensed by the World Health Organization. We haven’t decided which vaccine that will be. The only conditions are that it’s safe, tolerable, effective, and licensed by the WHO,” he added.
The Covid-19 pandemic has claimed far fewer victims in Senegal than in Western countries. There have been less than 20,000 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, and less than 400 deaths.
While several Western nations have already started their vaccination campaigns, opinions about the vaccines in Senegal are mixed. Much of the population remains reluctant to be vaccinated, as the government plans to begin its immunization campaign in early 2021.
“I’m against it,” said Elhadj Souleymane Ndiaye, a retiree. “It’s still very early. We’re going to be their guinea pigs. They can’t make an effective vaccine in less than nine months. It’s not possible,” he explained.
Covid-19 has been on the rise in Senegal since the end of November, with about 100 new cases per day. For some, the vaccine is the only option to defeat the virus.
“I’m ready to be vaccinated because I trust the government,” said Gora Kébé. “If it was harmful, the government would not commit to vaccinating people. That’s unimaginable,” he said.
Public figures, including doctors, have expressed doubts about the vaccine in local media, saying they’re concerned about potential side effects.