The shipment, consisting of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines, arrived at 7 am GMT Wednesday on an Emirates flight at Kotoka International Airport, in Ghana’s capital Accra.
Ghana Broadcasting Corporation journalist, Abdul Hayi-Moomen, revealed that the minister for health-designate, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, led a government delegation to receive the consignment.
The shots, which were produced by the Serum Institute of India, will be used by Ghana to launch a vaccination drive on March 2.
“The first segment of the population that will receive the 600,000 doses will be health workers, adults 60 years and over, people with underlying health conditions,” the government said.
In a joint statement, Ghana representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF described the arrival of the COVAX doses as a “momentous occasion” that will be crucial to bringing down infections.
“After a year of disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic … the path to recovery for the people of Ghana can finally begin,” the statement said.
It added that the shipment marked the start of what is expected to be the world’s largest procurement and supply operation in history.
Ghana, a country of 30 million people, has recorded more than 80,700 coronavirus cases and 584 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to the local health authority.
COVAX is planning to deliver almost 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines around the world by the end of the year, including 1.8 billion to poorer countries at no cost to their governments.
“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.
“At last!” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a tweet. “A day to celebrate, but it’s just the first step.”
This morning the first doses of #COVID19 vaccines shipped by the COVAX facility arrived in #Ghana. Congratulations to all partners including @gavi, @CEPIvaccines & @UNICEF. A day to celebrate, but it's just the first step. 45 days left for #VaccinEquity https://t.co/3TjuJiMzj0
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) February 24, 2021
COVAX is an international program led by the UN’s World Health Organization, the Gavi vaccine alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI.
It was launched in June 2020 in a bid to prevent poorer nations missing out on COVID-19 vaccines as wealthier nations secured billions of doses for their populations.
KanyiDaily recalls that Nigeria had been disqualified from the WHO COVID-19 vaccine bid for not meeting the requirement of storing the vaccines.