Ghana beats Nigeria to Covax vaccines, to begin vaccination next week

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Ghana has become the first country to receive a delivery of coronavirus vaccines from the global effort to boost inoculation access , beating giant Nigeria to roll out a vaccination programme to protect its people.

A plane with 600,000 initial doses and made by Astrazeneca landed in the capital Accra Wednesday to the delight of the people and government of the West African nation that has recently been punching its weight.

Vaccinations are now expected to start in Ghana next week, with prioritised groups such as health workers, people over 60, people with underlying health conditions, and senior officials.

In a joint statement, the WHO and the United Nations children’s fund (Unicef) said it was a momentous occasion and “critical in bringing the pandemic to an end”.

Ghana, a country of 31 million was selected as the first recipient after sending a credible rollout plan to Covax proving its health-care teams and cold chain equipment were ready to support a quick distribution.

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This comes nearly a year after pandemic disruptions that has left more than 80,700 Ghanaians infected and over 580 dead.

The statement by Anne-Claire Dufay, UNICEF representative in Ghana and Francis Kasolo, WHO Representative to Ghana said “the shipments represent the beginning of what should be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history.

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The COVAX Facility plans to deliver close to 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines this year.

The immunity help arrives days after President Biden pledged $4 billion to the multilateral pact known as Covax, breaking with the Trump administration’s move to reject the World Health Organization-backed mission.

The dose number of 600,000 represents 20 percent of Ghana’s population and other nations across West Africa including Nigeria are expected to soon receive similar shipments from Covax.

Covax is aiming to deliver about two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines globally by the end of the year.

Many rich nations, who began their own vaccinations months ago, have faced criticism for buying or ordering more vaccines than they need.

Ghana with a population of 30 million – has recorded more than 80,700 cases of coronavirus and 580 deaths since the pandemic began. These numbers are believed to fall short of the actual toll because of low levels of testing.

The Covax scheme was set up by the WHO, the Gavi vaccines alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to try to prevent poorer countries from being pushed to the back of the queue.

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