By Sola Ogundipe
In an unprecedented development, Ghana has received a historic first shipment of 600,000 doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX facility, ahead of Nigeria.
Ghana is the first country to receive the COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX Facility, an arrangement by the World Health Organisation, Gavi, the Vaccine Initiative and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to provide vaccines for low and middle-income countries.
A joint statement by the UNICEF representative in Ghana, Anne-Claire Dufay, and the World Health Organisation, WHO, representative to Ghana, Dr. Francis Kasolo, said the vaccines arrived Accra to kickstart the country’s vaccination process.
The statement read: “After a year of disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 80,700 Ghanaians getting infected with the virus and over 580 lost lives, the path to recovery for the people of Ghana can finally begin.
“This is a momentous occasion, as the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines into Ghana is critical in bringing the pandemic to an end. The only way out of this crisis is to ensure that vaccinations are available for all.
“We thank all partners that are supporting the COVAX facility to deliver safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to all countries quickly and fairly.
“These 600,000 COVAX vaccines are part of an initial tranche of deliveries of the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine licensed to the Serum Institute of India, which represent part of the first wave of COVID vaccines headed to several low and middle-income countries.
“The shipments also represent the beginning of what should be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history. The COVAX Facility plans to deliver close to 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines this year.
“This is an unprecedented global effort to make sure all citizens have access to vaccines.
“We are pleased that Ghana has become the first country to receive the COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX facility.
“We congratulate the government of Ghana, especially the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, and Ministry of Information, for its relentless efforts to protect the population.
“As part of the UN Country Team in Ghana, UNICEF and WHO reiterate our commitment to support the vaccination campaign and contain the spread of the virus, in close cooperation with all partners, including Gavi and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
“Vaccines save lives. As health workers and other front-line staff are vaccinated, we will be able to gradually see a return to normalcy, including better access to health, education and protection services. In the spirit of Universal Health Coverage, let’s leave no one behind.”
On Monday, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 disclosed that Nigeria is expecting delivery of four million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines from the COVAX facility by the end of February.
The Minister for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, had told Vanguard that the delivery of the much-awaited vaccines had been delayed by disruptions from the manufacturers as a result of the pandemic, among other challenges.