(Adds details of national vaccination strategy)
By Diadie Ba
DAKAR, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Senegal has paid a little over 2billion CFA francs ($3.72 million) for 200,000 doses of aCOVID-19 vaccine - nearly $19 per shot - developed by China'sSinopharm, a finance ministry spokesman said on Friday.
African nations are struggling to procure vaccines in theglobal scramble for doses. Coverage secured through AfricanUnion (AU) and World Health Organization-backed (WHO) programsso far fall short of the continent's needs.
Finance ministry spokesman Balle Preira confirmed the costof the shots, which will cover only a fraction of its populationof 16 million, without giving further details.
As a lower-middle income country, Senegal is eligible foraround 1.3 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines forfree in the first wave of disbursement from the WHO's COVAXprogram to provide vaccines globally.
Separately, the AU says it has secured roughly 670 milliondoses for the continent. Senegal is eligible to get 3.4 millionvaccines for just under $23 million under the plan.
Those include over 620,000 doses of the Pfizer Inctwo-shot vaccine at $6.75 per shot, more than 1.2 million ofAstraZeneca's two-shot vaccine at $3 each, and nearly 1.5million of Johnson & Johnson's single-shot vaccine at$10 each.
Senegal's President Macky Sall said this week he aims tostart a vaccination campaign by the end of February. The WestAfrican nation has recorded about 30,000 cases and 735 deathsfrom COVID-19.
Senegal aims to inoculate around 90% of a targeted 3.5million people including health workers and high-riskindividuals between the age of 19 and 60 years old by the end2021, a senior health ministry official told a forum on Friday.
Despite a relatively late start compared to Western vaccineproducers, China is ramping up efforts to distribute itsvaccines in Africa and elsewhere.
($1 = 537.5000 CFA francs)(Reporting by Diadie Ba; Additional reporting by David Lewis inNairobi; Writing by Nellie Peyton and Bate Felix; Editing byBarbara Lewis and Grant McCool)