Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe and Timor-Leste are the beneficiaries of the plan.

"I means ensuring one million vaccines since our global purchase is in the order of 20 million doses", added Augusto Santos Silva, after, on Tuesday, the Prime Minister, António Costa, announced that Portugal would redirect 5 percent of its vaccines against covid-19 to African Portuguese Speaking Countries (PALOP) and Timor-Leste.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, who was speaking on 24 February in Lisbon, pointed to the first half of 2021 as the expected date for vaccines to start arriving at their destination.

"We hope that the distribution of vaccines will start over the next semester" he said, noting that the calendar is dependent on the "supply by pharmaceutical companies" of vaccines purchased by Portugal.

On 23 February, an EU source cited by the Reuters agency, said that of the total AstraZeneca vaccines contracted with the European Union for the second quarter of this year, only half should reach the countries.

Augusto Santos Silva admitted, in this context, that, as may happen internally, the calendar for the distribution of vaccines to Portuguese-speaking countries and Timor-Leste may also need to be adjusted.

"Our estimate is to start the process of distributing the 5 percent of vaccines that we affect to bilateral cooperation as soon as possible throughout the next semester ", he said.

Augusto Santos Silva considered it "too early" to advance more details on the distribution of Portuguese vaccines by country, the criteria of which will be agreed with local authorities, and did not indicate which of the three vaccines currently approved in the EU (Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna and AstraZeneca) will be distributed.

"Right now, we are working with these authorities to prepare their respective vaccination plans and to train human resources who will be vaccination agents", he said.

In addition, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said that Portugal has already contributed more than one million Euros to the Covax mechanism, an initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO and the Alliance for Vaccines (Gavi), which aims to ensure vaccination of 20 percent of the population in 92 low or middle income countries.