The West African nation of Ghana is the first to get doses of the COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX global initiative, aiming to get people inoculated in developing countries.
According to UNICEF, Ghana received 600,000 doses of the medicine on Feb. 24 and Ivory Coast, received 504,000 doses on Feb. 26. The two nations were given the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine (which was branded COVISHIELD), licensed and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. It was granted an Emergency Use Listing by the World Health Organization on Feb. 15.
The initiative is part of a broad vaccination campaign in Africa, and the doses were provided by the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment (AMC).
“Ghana welcomes the arrival of the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX AMC as a pathway to ending the acute phase of the pandemic,” said Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo in a statement. “To maximise the public health benefit of the vaccine, the first doses will be prioritized for health and essential workers and other at-risk groups. This important milestone will allow Ghana to get back to business and build back our economy even stronger than before.”
The COVAX initiative plans to deliver globally at least 2 billion doses of the vaccine by the end of 2021, which includes 1.3 billion to the 92 countries eligible for AMC support.
Data from Johns Hopkins University indicate there have been more than 114 million confirmed coronavirus cases globally and more than 2.5 million deaths. Ghana has had 84,000 confirmed cases and 607 deaths.
“The last year has been a dark one for families all over the world, but the rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines provided a hopeful light at the end of the tunnel. Today, the COVAX Facility begins to make good on its promise to make sure that light shines for all,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “This unprecedented global effort has rallied the international community behind identifying acceptable vaccines, raising funds to procure them, and laying the groundwork for the world’s largest immunization campaign in history.”