The Republic of the Congo took delivery Wednesday of 100,000 doses of Chinese-made coronavirus vaccines, 10 days before a presidential vote in the country heavily indebted to Beijing.
Donated Sinopharm vaccines “prove that China remains alongside developing countries to fight Covid-19 together,” Chinese ambassador Ma Fulin told reporters at the airport in capital Brazzaville.
Oil-producing Congo, also known as Congo-Brazzaville, is deeply in debt.
One of its major creditors, Beijing last month cancelled $28 million that Congo owed and offered a further $15 million to support development in the country.
Brazzaville’s debt to China already had to be restructured in 2019 to allow the country to access an International Monetary Fund (IMF) aid programme.
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36-year President Denis Sassou Nguesso is the firm favourite for reelection at a March 21 ballot that the Catholic Church warned could be distorted by coronavirus restrictions and a shaky electoral system.
Health Minister Lydia Mikolo said that Covid-19 vaccinations would begin “in the coming days” starting with highly-exposed groups like health workers, the press and security forces.
So far 120 Congolese have died out of 5,000 confirmed coronavirus infections.