Epidemiology of the first and second waves of COVID-19 pandemic in Djibouti and the vaccination strategy developed for the response – Djibouti

  1. Mohamed Elhakim 1,

  2. Saleh Banoita Tourab 2,

  3. Fatouma Salem 1,

  4. Reinhilde Van De Weerdt 1

  5. Correspondence to Dr Mohamed Elhakim; elhakimm@who.int


Since the first case of COVID-19 in Djibouti in March 2020 up to the end of May 2021, the country experienced two major epidemic waves of confirmed cases and deaths. The first wave in 2020 progressed more slowly in Djibouti compared with other countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. The second wave in 2021 appeared to be more aggressive in terms of the number and severity of cases, as well as the overall fatality rate. This study describes and analyses the epidemiology of these two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in Djibouti and highlights lessons learnt from the National Plan for Introduction and Deployment of COVID-19 vaccines developed and implemented by the Ministry of Health of Djibouti.

From 17 March 2020 up to 31 May 2021, Djibouti officially reported 11 533 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 154 related deaths (case fatality rate, CFR: 1.3%), with an attack rate of 1.2%. The first epidemic wave began in epidemiological week 16/2020 (12–18 April) and ended in epidemiological week 25/2020 (14–20 June) with 4274 reported cases and 46 deaths (CFR: 1.1%). The second wave began in epidemiological week 11/2021 (14–20 March) and ended in epidemiological week 18/2021 (2–8 May) with 5082 reported cases and 86 deaths (CFR: 1.7%).

A vaccination campaign was launched by the President of the Republic in March 2021; approximately 1.6% of the population were vaccinated in only two months’ time. Early Preparedness, multisectoral and multicoordinated response, and collaboration with WHO are among the major lessons learnt during the pandemic in Djibouti.

Read the full report