(Adds background on vaccine distribution)
MOSCOW/CONAKRY, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Guinea has approved the Russian Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine for domestic use, becoming the second African country to do so, health authorities and Russia’s sovereign wealth fund said on Friday.
The West African country’s approval of the vaccine for use for one year occurred two weeks after President Alpha Conde was seen receiving it on television under a trial run of what is expected to be a much large delivery of vials from Russia.
Guinea is negotiating a bilateral deal to take an additional 2 million doses, a senior government official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Russia’s vaccine diplomacy has cultivated goodwill in parts of the world after other pharmaceutical companies including U.S.-based Pfizer Inc announced shortfalls in distribution plans.
Algeria, the Palestinian Territories, Venezuela, Serbia, Algeria and Argentina have approved use of the Sputnik V vaccine.
It may prove to be especially welcome in Africa, whose poorer nations have struggled to secure supply deals with international manufacturers, creating big delays during a second wave of infections, while vaccination campaigns in richer nations are well under way.
Most on the continent will rely on COVAX, a global scheme co-led by the World Health Organisation, that aims to deliver at least 2 billion COVID-19 doses across the world this year, with at least 1.3 billion going to poorer countries.
The Sputnik V vaccine has not been approved by the WHO, though developers have applied for approval. (Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova in Moscow and Saliou Samb in Conakry; Writing by Polina Ivanova and Edward McAllister; Editing by Alison Williams and Paul Simao)