This week Ghana received the first COVID-19 vaccine doses delivered through the COVAX program, which aims to help low- and middle-income countries get access to the vaccines. The first-of-its-kind delivery is a major milestone in the global pandemic.
Today the country received 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, according to a UNICEF press release. And more doses are expected to arrive in Ivory Coast, also on the west coast of Africa, later this week. (Future shipments will also contain the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.)
“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,” officials from UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a joint statement on Ghana’s COVID-19 vaccine delivery. “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.”
The COVAX program (created by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and Gavi) was designed to help low- and middle-income countries access COVID-19 vaccines as richer countries buy up many of the first available doses, SELF explained previously. Through the program, those richer countries are encouraged to help fund vaccine doses for other nations when buying their own. In this way, COVAX gives lower-income countries access to the vaccines that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to get until much later on.
Initially, the U.S. declined to take part in the COVAX scheme back in the fall of 2020. But one of President Biden’s first acts after his inauguration was to announce that the country would now participate—and ultimately donate $4 billion to the global effort.