First COVAX Vaccine Doses Administered in Ghana and Ivory Coast

Published March 1, 2021, 7:12 p.m. by Francis Ngobounan

Ghana and Ivory Coast on Monday became the world’s first countries to conduct vaccines from COVAX, an international coalition set up to give equal access to the Covid-19 vaccine to all countries; especially to poorer countries. Covax is designed so that richer countries buying vaccines donate - either financially or with doses - so that poorer nations have access, too. The initiative is led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and also involves the Global Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi).

The vaccination rollouts in Ghana and Ivory Coast follow deliveries to both countries last week with Ghana taking delivery of 600,000 doses on February 24 and Ivory Coast 504,000 doses on February 26. Both West African countries received the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine licensed and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII). The vaccine was granted Emergency Use Listing (EUL) by the World Health Organization on February 15.

President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana became the world’s first recipient of the COVID-19 vaccine from COVAX. “It is important that I set the example that this vaccine is safe by being the first to have it so that everybody in Ghana can feel comfortable about taking this vaccine,” the President said before receiving a shot of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in a live broadcast.

“Fellow Ghanaians, I know there are still some who continue to express doubts about the vaccine, others have expressed reservations about its efficacy, with some taking sides with conspiracy theorists who believe the vaccine has been created to wipe out the African race. This is far from the truth,” Akufo-Addo said during his address.

“Taking the vaccine will not alter your DNA, it will not embed a tracking device in your body, neither will it cause infertility in women or in men,” he added.

Patrick Achi, the secretary-general at the presidency, was the first to be vaccinated at a sports complex in Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast. “The vaccines offer us the hope of returning to normal in the coming months,” Achi said.

Africa has reported relatively few cases and deaths in comparison with many western countries. The Covax scheme hopes to deliver more than two billion doses to people in 190 countries in less than a year. According to John Hopkins University, Ghana has recorded more than 84,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 600 deaths, while Ivory Coast has recorded over 36,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 190 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Although, the true figure is believed to be higher because of the limited testing.

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