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Ivory Coast says delivery of its first doses of Pfizer vaccine delayed to mid-Feb

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ABIDJAN, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast's government said it will receive a first batch of around 100,000 doses of the Pfizer BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in mid February, around two weeks later than initially planned, due to delays in availability of the shots.

Government spokesman Sidi Tiemoko Toure said on Wednesday the country plans to roll out its inoculation programme in the first quarter and would authorise vaccines from AstraZeneca , China's Sinopharm and Russia this week.

While richer nations have secured and launched mass vaccination campaigns, countries in Africa are still scrambling to secure supplies as most grapple with a second wave of infections.

"The first deliveries of the Pfizer vaccine of around 100,000 doses initially scheduled for the end of January 2021, have been postponed to mid February due to delays in the availability of vaccines," Toure said.

Countries in sub-Saharan Africa, some among the world's poorest, are relying on the World Health Organization-backed global COVAX scheme which has secured nearly 2 billion doses, and aims to deliver 1.3 billion of these in 2021 to 92 eligible low- and middle-income nations.

Toure said the 100,000 doses Ivory Coast secured are separate from the COVAX alliance scheme. The government has previously said frontline health workers and the vulnerable section of the population would be first to be vaccinated.

More than 3.3 million COVID-19 cases and over 80,000 deaths have been recorded on the continent to date, according to a Reuters tally. (Reporting by Ange Aboa Writing by Bate Felix Editing by Alexandra Hudson)