COVID-19: Ghana becomes first Country in the world to receive vaccines via the COVAX Facility

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Ndaman Joshua Olayinka
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Today, Ghana became the first country in Africa and outside India to receive COVID-19 vaccine doses shipped via the COVAX Facility. This is part of the first batch of vaccine to be shipped from the COVAX scheme as part of an unprecedented effort to deliver at least 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021.

The shipped 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/ Oxford vaccine arrived on a flight from Mumbai, via Dubai. where the flight also collected a shipment of syringes from a Gavi-funded stockpile at UNICEF’s regional Supply Hub.

COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), working in partnership with UNICEF as well as the World Bank, civil society organisations, manufacturers, and others.

According to a statement by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), “This a historic step towards our goal to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines globally, in what will be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history. The delivery is part of a first wave of arrivals that will continue in the coming days and weeks.”

Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director said “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,”

“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 immunization campaign in history. Each step on this journey brings us further along the path to recovery for the billions of children and families affected around the world.”

Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance said “COVAX’s mission is to help end the acute phase of the pandemic as quickly as possible by enabling global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. Today’s delivery takes us another step closer to this goal and is something the whole world can be proud of. Over the coming weeks, COVAX must deliver vaccines to all participating economies to ensure that those most at risk are protected, wherever they live. We need governments and businesses now to recommit their support for COVAX and help us defeat this virus as quickly as possible.”

“We will not end the pandemic anywhere unless we end it everywhere,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Today is a major first step towards realizing our shared vision of vaccine equity, but it’s just the beginning. We still have a lot of work to do with governments and manufacturers to ensure that vaccination of health workers and older people is underway in all countries within the first 100 days of this year.”

Dr Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI said: “This is a landmark moment in our efforts to get life-saving vaccine to the world. The fact that we now have multiple safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19 developed in record time is testament to the scientific community and industry rising to the challenge of this pandemic. With this shipment we also see the global community, through COVAX, responding to the challenge of delivering these vaccines to those who need them most. Let us celebrate this as a moment of global solidarity in the struggle against the pandemic. But there is still much to do. With the increased spread of COVID-19 variants, we have entered a new and less predictable phase of the pandemic. It is crucial that the vaccines we have developed are shared globally, as a matter of the greatest urgency, to reduce the prevalence of disease, slow down viral mutation, and bring the pandemic to an end.”

After a year of disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 80,700 Ghanaians getting infected with the virus and over 580 lost lives, the path to recovery for the people of Ghana can finally begin.

UNICEF Representative in Ghana, Anne-Claire Dufay and WHO Representative to Ghana, Dr Francis Kasolo on the arrival of the first COVID-19 vaccines in Accra UNICEF in Ghana, said in a statement

“This is a momentous occasion, as the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines into Ghana is critical in bringing the pandemic to an end. The only way out of this crisis is to ensure that vaccinations are available for all. We thank all partners that are supporting the COVAX Facility to deliver safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to all countries quickly and fairly. Vaccines save lives. As health workers and other front-line staff are vaccinated, we will be able to gradually see a return to normalcy, including better access to health, education and protection services. In the spirit of Universal Health Coverage, let’s leave no one behind.”

COVAX vaccine deliveries for the first round of vaccine allocation will take place on a rolling basis and in tranches.

COVAX Facility List of partners and donors

  • President Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, New Zealand
  • President Pedro Sánchez, Spain
  • Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs Minister for Women, Australia
  • Belgian Minister of Development Cooperation Meryame Kitir
  • Karina Gould, Minister of International Development, Government of Canada and Gavi COVAX AMC co-chair
  • French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian
  • Retno Marsudi, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Indonesia and Gavi COVAX AMC co-chair
  • Alessandro Rivera, Director General of the Treasury, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Italy
  • Keiichi ONO, Ambassador of Japan for Global Issues
  • Per Olsson Fridh, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation, Sweden
  • Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, United Kingdom
  • Dr John Nkengasong, Director, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Thomas Cueni, Director General, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA)

List of donor pledges to the Gavi COVAX AMC is available here

Related article: Russia becomes first country to approve a Coronavirus vaccine

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