ACCRA, 24 February 2021 – The global vaccine sharing initiative, COVAX, has made its first delivery of doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Ghana, the first country to benefit from the initiative.
The delivery – a first batch for Ghana – contains 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines.
They were delivered Wednesday by a plane which touched down at Ghana’s Kotoko International Airport in the capital, Accra.
The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine doses delivered to Ghana Wednesday were produced by the Serum Institute of India.
More shipments are expected to arrive this week in one other West African country, Cote d’Ivoire, according to WHO offiicals who say the doses to Cote d’Ivoire will include Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses.
COVAX is “the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history,” according to a joint statement by WHO Representative to Ghana Dr. Francis Kasolo and UNICEF’s representative in Ghana, Anne-Claire Dufay.
“After a year of disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic… the path to recovery for the people of Ghana can finally begin,” Kasolo and Dufay said.
The UNICEF representative said Ghana met conditions for receiving the vaccine once its national deployment and vaccination plan was approved.
Countries must meet a set of criteria in order to be added to the vaccine allocation process.
“These 600,000 COVAX vaccines are part of an initial tranche of deliveries,” read a statement shared with reporters.
Ghana’s ministry of information said inoculations will prioritize health professionals, the elderly, notably those aged above 60, and individuals with underlying health conditions.
Frontline security personnel and selected members of the executive, legislative and judiciary branches of government, along with some religious leaders, and essential workers, like teachers, will be among the first in line to get the jabs on their arms across Ghana.
The aim of the WHO-led COVAX initiative is deliver nearly two billion doses of the vaccines this year.
COVAX on Wednesday celebrated the first delivery to Ghana as an important milestone for the international effort ensure that poor, low- and middle-income countries access vaccines equitably and at affordable prices thanks to collective bargaining among the nearly 200 member countries of the initiative.
“We will not end the pandemic anywhere unless we end it everywhere,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Today is a major first step towards realizing our shared vision of vaccine equity, but it’s just the beginning.”
WHO officials have not stopped warning against vaccine hoarding by the world’s richest countries.
“We’re in a situation where we have 108 million doses of vaccine that have been distributed worldwide, but 75 percent of those doses have gone to just 10 countries,” the WHO’s Dr. Katherine O’Brien told National Public Radio last month.
As of Wednesday, Ghana had confirmed 80,759 cases of COVID-19 with 582 fatalities and 73,365 full recoveries.
Worldwide, some 112 million cases have been confirmed with no fewer than 2.4 million deaths and 63.4 million full recoveries, according to data from the World Health Organization and Johns Hopkins University Hospital.