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Ghana becomes first country to receive Covid vaccine through COVAX program


6:39 am
February 27, 2021



Posts: 42


Ghana has become the first country to receive Covid-19 vaccines through the World Health Organization’s COVAX program on Wednesday, a joint statement issued by UNICEF Ghana and WHO Ghana said.

The shipment, consisting of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines, arrived at 7 am GMT Wednesday on an Emirates flight at Kotoka International Airport, in Ghana’s capital Accra.

The minister for health-designate, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, led a government delegation to receive the consignment.
As the plane carrying the vaccines landed, state-run Ghana Broadcasting Corporation journalist Abdul Hayi-Moomen declared: “The flight carrying the vaccines that we so much look forward to receiving, I believe hope has arrived.”

The vaccines were produced by the Serum Institute of India, in the Indian city of Pune, and are part of the first wave of Covid-19 vaccines headed to low and middle-income countries, the joint statement added.

“Today marks the historic moment for which we have been planning and working so hard,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “With the first shipment of doses, we can make good on the promise of the COVAX facility to ensure people from less wealthy countries are not left behind in the race for life-saving vaccines.”

See interactive global vaccines tracker

COVAX is an international coalition set up to give equal access to the vaccine to all countries. Wealthier nations have, in the past, been accused of “hoarding” vaccines and leaving African countries behind in the race to inoculate their populations.

In comparison to other regions, African countries have been slow to start vaccinating against Covid, with only a handful of countries who have started a vaccines campaign.

“We will not end the pandemic anywhere unless we end it everywhere,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus after Ghana received its vaccines.
“Today is a major first step towards realizing our shared vision of vaccine equity, but it’s just the beginning,” he added.

“We still have a lot of work to do with governments and manufacturers to ensure that vaccination of health workers and older people is underway in all countries within the first 100 days of this year,” he said in a statement issued by GAVI, the global health alliance working to increase immunization in developing nations.

The UK’s foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, described Wednesday’s rollout as a “huge step forward in ending this pandemic.”

“As one of the biggest donors to COVAX the UK is ensuring that more than one billion vaccine doses will be sent to 92 countries so that no one is left behind in this global fight. We will only save lives and reduce the risk of future infections if we prevent the virus spreading in the world’s developing countries,” he added.

Ghana’s information ministry says the vaccines will be first administered to health workers, people over 60, and those with underlying health conditions. They also plan to secure additional vaccines through external agencies, a statement from the ministry said.

Last month, India and the African Union announced plans for the Serum Institute to supply 400 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Africa.
Ghana has reported at least 80,759 cases of Covid-19 and 582 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

has become the first country in the world to receive coronavirus vaccines under the World Health Organization-backed Covax facility for low- and middle-income countries, marking the beginning of what has been called the largest vaccine procurement programme in history.

“With the first shipment of doses, we can make good on the promise of the Covax Facility to ensure people from less wealthy countries are not left behind in the race for life-saving vaccines,” Unicef executive director Henrietta Fore said in a statement.

Poor and lower-middle-income countries will not pay for doses secured through Covax. However, officials in several African nations have complained at the slow pace of the Covax rollout, pointing out that immunisation programmes began in countries such as the UK, United Arab Emirates and the US in December.

“We need shipments to 55 member states who are in Covax and that isn’t happening,” said Strive Masiyiwa, the African Union’s special envoy on vaccines. Covax had promised to deliver 15m vaccines to Africa this month and a further 40m in March, he said. “Today is almost the end of February. There’s nothing. Where are the vaccines? We haven’t seen them.”

Ghana will receive 600,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab from the Serum Institute of India. Other countries, including Nigeria, Kenya and Ivory Coast, are yet to receive any doses, although the latter is expected to get its first shipments on Friday, according to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

South Africa, which grew impatient with Covax after a deadly second wave of the pandemic, ordered 1.5m doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India. It later decided not to use them after a small study showed the vaccine was ineffective in preventing mild and moderate disease caused by the 501. V2 variant first discovered in South Africa.

Last week, South Africa started immunising healthcare workers with Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine, which will eventually be manufactured in the country.

Covax, which is backed by Gavi and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, is designed to cover at least 20 per cent of citizens in participating countries by the end of the year, with a chance that it could raise that to 27 per cent if supplies and funding allow.

Last week, G7 leaders increased their funding to the facility and discussed schemes to donate surplus doses.

The African Union has also secured hundreds of millions of doses through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, buying from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, as well as 300m doses of Russia’s Sputnik V jab.

Member states will pay for those vaccines through finance arranged by the Cairo-based African Export-Import Bank and the World Bank.

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