With the delivery of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Ghana, the west African country becomes the first to receive coronavirus vaccines through the World Health Organisation Covax vaccine-sharing initiative.
The Covax scheme was set up by the WHO, the Gavi vaccines alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to try to prevent poorer countries from being pushed to the back of the queue. It is funded by donations to reduce the divide between rich countries and poorer nation’s ability to procure Covid-19 vaccines. The plan is to deliver about two billion vaccine doses to 190 countries by the end of the year.
Covax partners also support local authorities in areas such as training to administer the jabs and helping provide adequate cold-chain storage and delivery system.
The Covax scheme also involves the Global Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) and
The vaccines delivered to Accra were produced by the Serum Institute of India and developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. The vaccine has been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its roll-out in Ghana is not part of a trial.
In a joint statement, the WHO and the United Nations children’s fund (Unicef) said it was a momentous occasion and “critical in bringing the pandemic to an end”.
The Director-General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said it was a major first step but just the beginning. “We will not end the pandemic anywhere unless we end it everywhere”, he added.
Vaccinations are expected to start in Ghana next week, and, as well as health workers, those over 60, people with underlying health conditions, and senior officials are due to be prioritised.