Published: Sat, February 27, 2021
Science | By

Ghana receives 600,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine

Ghana receives 600,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine

So far, Israel, the United States and Britain are leading in vaccine rollouts, while many poor countries have yet to receive a single jab.

AstraZeneca also licensed SII to supply one billion doses for low-and-middle-income countries, with a commitment to provide 400 million before the end of 2020.

In a statement, Henrietta Fore, Unicef executive director, said: "In the days ahead, frontline workers will begin to receive vaccines, and the next phase in the fight against this disease can begin - the ramping up of the largest immunisation campaign in history".

"A similar segmented population in the Greater Kumasi Metro and Obuasi municipality will also be covered".

The vaccines will be first administered to health workers, people over 60, and those with underlying health conditions, according to a statement from the Information Ministry. The COVAX Facility plans to deliver close to 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines this year.

Coronavirus infections have soared in Ghana to over 81,200, and 584 people have died, with almost as many dying in the first two months of this year as in the whole of 2020, health ministry data showed. But it will not be enough to reach herd immunity and effectively contain the virus, forcing African countries to also look to bilateral agreements, donations and an African Union procurement plan.

That reportedly compares to $3 per dose for the 100 million AstraZeneca vaccines that the AU previously said it had secured.

But many countries are largely reliant on COVAX.

China has donated small batches of its Sinopharm vaccine to countries including Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea.

Covax, led by Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), is seeking to ensure vaccines are equitably distributed globally.

The initiative has received billions of dollars in funding, but WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pointed out this week that money is nearly meaningless if there are no vaccines to buy.

"We continue to work with countries to support them on safe vaccination administration".

COVAX's initial goal was to get vaccines to poor countries at roughly the same time shots were being rolled out in rich countries.

"Today is a major first step towards realizing our shared vision of vaccine equity, but it's just the beginning", he said.

The support ranged from specialist expertise such as seconding a UK Emergency Medical Team Case Management Specialist to the WHO Ghana; funding of oxygen concentrators and drones to deliver Covid-19 tests and life-saving medical equipment. Only two vaccines have received that green light so far, the shots made by Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca.

Some 145 participating economies are set to receive 337.2 million doses - enough to vaccinate a little over three percent of their combined populations.

Beyond the moral duty of sharing vaccines broadly, scientists have warned that that allowing the coronavirus to spread freely in any population is a global risk because that could lead to unsafe new variants that could then spread - even in people who had already had the virus or who had been vaccinated against it.

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