Ghana becomes first country to receive Covid-19 vaccines through Covax scheme

24 February 2021, 21:09

A delivery of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Ghana on Wednesday
A delivery of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Ghana on Wednesday. Picture: UNICEF Ghana

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Ghana has become the first country in the world to receive Covid-19 vaccines through the Covax initiative for low and middle-income countries.

A delivery of 600,000 AstraZeneca doses was made by the Serum Institute of India and delivered by Unicef to Accra's Kotoka International Airport on Wednesday.

They are part of the first wave of vaccines that United Nations-backed Covax is sending to countries.

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Ghana is among 92 countries to have signed up to the programme, according to a statement by Ghana's acting minister of information Kojo Oppong Nkrumah.

Covax plans to deliver close to two billion doses around the world this year.

Ghana's vaccination campaign will begin on March 2 and will be conducted in phases among prioritised groups, beginning with, among others, health workers, adults over 60 and people with underlying health conditions.

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 health officials.

Mr Nkrumah said: "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."

In a joint statement, the country representatives of Unicef and the World Health Organisation (WHO) described the arrival of the Covax vaccines as a "momentous occasion" critical to bringing the pandemic to an end.

"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.

Henrietta Fore, Unicef's executive director, said: “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.”

She added: "The next phase in the fight against this disease can begin - the ramping up of the largest immunisation campaign in history."