Ghana has become the first country in the world to receive vaccines acquired through UN-backed COVAX initiatives with a Wednesday delivery of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India.
The vaccines, delivered by UNICEF, arrived at Accra International Airport Kotoka early on Wednesday and are part of the first wave of COVID-19 vaccines that COVAX sends to several low- and middle-income countries. Ghana is among 92 countries that have signed the COVAX program, according to a statement by Ghana’s acting information minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah.
The 30 million West African nation has registered 81,245 cases and 584 deaths since the pandemic began, according to figures from Ghana’s health services on Tuesday.
Ghana’s vaccination campaign begins on March 2 and will be carried out in phases among priority groups, starting with health workers, adults over 60, people with underlying health conditions, senior executives, legislators, the judiciary and their related staff, Nkrumah said.
“The Ghanaian government remains committed to ensuring the well – being of all Ghanaians and is making every effort to provide adequate vaccines to cover the entire population through bilateral and multilateral authorities,” he said.
In a joint statement, country representatives of UNICEF and the WHO described the arrival of COVAX vaccines as a “significant opportunity” that is crucial to ending the pandemic.
“After a year of disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic … the road to recovery for the people of Ghana can finally begin,” the statement said.
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The COVAX shipment to Ghana is the beginning of what will be the world’s largest vaccine procurement and delivery in history, according to the statement. COVAX plans to deliver close to 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines around the world this year.
“Today we mark the historic moment that we have planned and worked so hard for. With the first delivery of doses, we can fulfill the promise from the COVAX facility to ensure that people from less rich countries are not left behind in the race for life-saving vaccines, says Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director.
“The next phase in the fight against this disease can begin – the refurbishment of the largest vaccination campaign in history,” says Fore. “Every step on this journey takes us further along the road to recovery for billions of children and families affected around the world. ”