The Algerian government has announced it will begin rolling out the contentious Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine developed by Russia in January.
Communications Minister Ammar Belhimer confirmed the North African country had signed a “mutual agreement with a Russian laboratory for acquisition of the coronavirus vaccine from January”.
Finance ministry director general Abdelaziz Fayed also confirmed to Africa24.news that Algerian authorities will receive an initial shipment of 500,000 doses.
The announcement comes a day after the elderly president of the nation, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, returned home following a two-month absence in Germany where he was treated for a coronavirus infection.
Algeria has recorded nearly 100,000 Covid-19 infections and more than 2,750 deaths from the disease, according to the health ministry.
Moscow announced the registration of Sputnik V back in August after it had completed just the second phase of trials on under 100 volunteers.
It has raised concerns from scientists at home and abroad who said the decision was premature without wider clinical trials and the publication of scientific results.
Russia began its own vaccination campaign on December 5, beginning with at-risk workers.
Political analysts have viewed the fast-track registration and the early launch of mass vaccination as a bid by Russia to bolster geopolitical influence ahead of other global superpowers by using “Covid diplomacy”.