Algeria will begin rolling out the contentious Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine developed by Russia in January, the government said late Wednesday.
The country had signed a “mutual agreement with a Russian laboratory for the acquisition of the coronavirus vaccine from January”, said Communications Minister Ammar Belhimer.
Authorities will receive an initial shipment of 500,000 doses, finance ministry director-general Abdelaziz Fayed told local broadcaster Echorouk.
The announcement came a day after the elderly president of the North African nation, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, returned home following a two-month absence in Germany where he was treated for a coronavirus infection.
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.
Some analysts have viewed the fast-track registration and the early launch of mass vaccination as a bid by Russia to bolster geopolitical influence.
Algeria has recorded nearly 100,000 COVID-19 infections and more than 2,750 deaths from the disease, according to the health ministry.