The West African nation of Guinea has begun administering coronavirus vaccines, making the country among the first on the continent to roll out the vaccinations, an official said on Thursday.
Ministers were seen on television receiving their doses at the presidential palace on Wednesday evening.
They were reportedly injected with Russia’s Sputnik V shot, a vaccine that has been met with scepticism in the international medical community but which is also being used in places like Belarus and Argentina.
“We are the guinea pigs,” Guinean Parliament Speaker Amadou Damaro said after getting the shot.
“The government’s permanent concern is to fight this disease … We hope that this vaccination will be extended to the rest of the people and that it will be the beginning of the eradication of this disease,” he said.
In Guinea, 13,680 infections have been registered so far, according to figures from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Eighty people have died.
Russia became the first country to introduce a vaccine against the novel coronavirus five months ago, in August, with the state-produced Sputnik V vaccine.
But the vaccine, endorsed by Russian government officials while it was still undergoing clinical trials, has courted controversy among the international scientific community amid questions of whether it was sufficiently tested.