The United States will ship more than 1.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four African countries through the global COVAX distribution program on Friday, a White House official said.

The shipments include 250 320 doses of the Moderna vaccine for the Democratic Republic of Congo, 657 080 Moderna doses for Uganda, 302 400 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for Guinea; and 35 100 doses of the vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech for Seychelles.

The doses are being delivered through COVAX, jointly run by the World Health Organization and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI).

Africa has lagged sharply behind other regions in vaccinating its citizens, with most countries reporting single-digit vaccination rates, compared with much higher double-digit rates in advanced economies such as the United States.

Canada has also donated more than 1.3 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to three African countries through the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility.

According to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), Nigeria, Kenya, and Niger received their first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccines on Thursday.

The COVAX facility, backed by the World Health Organization and GAVI, aims to secure 2 billion vaccine doses for lower-income countries by the end of 2021.

Kenya and Ghana

The United States on Thursday shipped more than 2 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine to Kenya and Ghana through the COVAX global distribution programme, a White House official said.

The United States sent 880 320 doses to Kenya, bringing the total number of doses sent to the African country to just over 1.76 million, the official said.

It sent 1 229 620 doses to Ghana, the first shipment to that country.