Ghana Receives World’s First Doses Of Free COVAX-Facilitated Vaccines
COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, abbreviated as COVAX was launched last April to procure and ensure a fairer distribution o coronavirus vaccines between rich and poor nations.
The scheme says it would deliver two billion doses to its members by the end of the year as the world races to contain the pandemic.
UNICEF, which organised the shipment from Mumbai, in a joint statement with World Health Organization — both backers of Covax, said;
We are pleased that Ghana has become the first country to receive the Covid-19 vaccines from the Covax facility.
It said 600,000 doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine has been licensed by the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, Serum Institute of India and are part of an initial tranche of deliveries “headed to several low and middle-income countries.”
Other nations across West Africa are expected to soon receive similar Covax shipments.
Boxes of vaccines left Mumbai on Tuesday for Dubai. Then, Emirates flight carrying the vaccines touched down at Accra’s Kotoka International Airport shortly after 0740 GMT, in images broadcast on television.
COVAX earlier said it aimed to deliver 2,412,000 doses of the vaccine to Ghana.
The country’s food and drug authority already authorised the use of the vaccines made in India as well as the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia, according to local media.
Meanwhile, health workers and other frontline staff are meant to be among the first to receive doses.
Speaking about the vaccine sharing formula, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said;
In the days ahead, frontline workers will begin to receive vaccines. The next phase in the fight against this disease can begin – the ramping up of the largest immunisation campaign in history.
The West African country has recorded more than 80,700 cases of coronavirus and 580 deaths since the pandemic began. These numbers are believed to fall short of the actual toll because of low levels of testing.
To help speed up immunisation of the continent’s 1.3 billion people, African Union said it had secured 270 million doses of anti-Covid vaccines for delivery this year.
However, WHO on Monday blasted wealthy countries for hogging Covid vaccines and hindering the pathway for poorer nations to get them too.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said some rich countries’ direct deals with manufacturers had meant that previously-agreed vaccine allocations for poorer countries, via the Covax programme, were being reduced.
Also, New Director-General of World Trade Organisation (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala called on the United Kingdom to donate vaccines to developing countries now rather than waiting until it has a surplus.
Okonjo-Iweala said it was “in the interest” of wealthy countries that all nations access vaccines.
Meanwhile, schools in Ghana reopened in January after a 10-month closure, but large social gatherings are banned and land and sea borders have remained closed since March 2020.