Ghana is first nation in world to receive COVAX vaccines
Publish- February 24, 2021, 04:55 PM
AP/UNB - AP/UNB
Update- February 24, 2021, 05:10 PM
FILE - In this file photo dated Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, Vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine and loaded syringes wait to be administered to homeless persons at the Welcome Centre in Ilford, east London. The World Health Organization Monday Feb. 15, 2021, granted an emergency authorization to the coronavirus vaccine made by AstraZeneca, a move that should allow its partners to ship millions of doses to countries worldwide as part of a U.N.-backed program to stop the pandemic.(AP Photo/ FILE)
Ghana has become the first country in the world to receive vaccines acquired through the United Nations-backed COVAX initiative with a delivery Wednesday of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India.
The vaccines, delivered by UNICEF, arrived at Accra’s Kotoka International Airport early Wednesday and are part of the first wave of COVID-19 vaccines that COVAX is sending to several low- and middle-income countries. Ghana is among 92 countries that have signed onto the COVAX program, according to a statement by Ghana’s acting Minister of Information Kojo Oppong Nkrumah.
The West African nation of 30 million has recorded 81,245 cases and 584 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to figures from Ghana’s Health Services Tuesday.
Ghana's vaccination campaign will begin March 2 and will be conducted in phases among prioritized groups, beginning with health workers, adults of 60 years and over, people with underlying health conditions, frontline executive, legislature, judiciary, and their related staff, said Nkrumah.
“The government of Ghana remains resolute at ensuring the welfare of all Ghanaians and is making frantic efforts to acquire adequate vaccines to cover the entire population through bilateral and multi-lateral agencies,” he said.
The COVAX shipment to Ghana is the start of what will be the world's largest vaccine procurement and supply operation 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 marks the historic moment for which we have been planning and working so hard. With the first shipment of doses, we can make good on the promise of the COVAX Facility to ensure people from less wealthy countries are not left behind in the race for life-saving vaccines,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF's executive director.
“The next phase in the fight against this disease can begin -– the ramping up of the largest immunization campaign in history," said Fore. "Each step on this journey brings us further along the path to recovery for the billions of children and families affected around the world.”