Mozambique expects to inoculate 16 million high-risk people against the coronavirus by 2022, says a top government health official.

Mozambique will begin COVID-19 vaccinations on Monday after receiving a donation of 200 000 doses from the China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) last week.

The government initiative aims to inoculate about 60 000 health workers in the country of about 30 million.

“We will do everything so that the entire eligible population is vaccinated by 2022,” said Deputy National Director of Health, Benigna Matsinhe, on Friday.

He acknowledged it will take time given Mozambique’s financial difficulties.

In a more optimistic scenario, the vaccination target could be reached by the end of the first quarter of 2022 and in a more conservative scenario by the end of next year, Matsinhe added.

In addition to the donation from China, the low-income southern African nation will also receive 100 000 shots from India as a donation.

In January, President Filipe Nyusi said Mozambique had applied for vaccines through the global distribution program COVAX, co-led by the World Health Organization, giving it the option to acquire doses for at least 20% of its population.

Mozambique has recorded 61 529 coronavirus infections with 680 deaths during the year-long pandemic.