Ghana has received the 350,000 additional doses of the much-awaited second batch of the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines, bringing the total number of vaccines to 950,000.
The country received the vaccines through the COVAX Facility (CEPI, GAVI, UNICEF, WHO), with logistical support from UNICEF. The move has come at a time where Ghanaians had heightened doubts due to increase delays in its arrival.
Many Ghanaians who took their first jab more than two months ago expressed worry over the delay in taking their second jab.
UNICEF explained that Ghana was selected as one of the recipients of the doses due to its rapid, efficient and coordinated response to this public health crisis, as well as its absorption capacity.
These AstraZeneca vaccine doses, which were developed by the Serum Institute of India (SII), form part of the larger 1.7 million consignment of doses allotted earlier to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Over 1.3 million doses have been reallocated to five countries in Africa.
In a statement, UNICEF noted that the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service have also significantly strengthened cold chain equipment and facilities over the past years, with support from GAVI and UNICEF.
This, they say, has enabled the successful and safe transfer of the vaccines between the two West African countries. To assess the potency of the vaccine, UNICEF formed part of an independent committee which conducted a complete assessment of the vaccine and formally endorsed that they have been well maintained and are safe and effective for immediate use.
The initial vaccination campaign, which commenced on Monday, 1st March, 2021, following the vaccination of the President of the Republic, His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo, has enabled health workers, persons with underlying comorbidities, frontline personnel living in Greater Accra, Ashanti and parts of Central regions to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This has provided a level of protection for members of the population most at risk of contracting the virus.
UNICEF and WHO noted that “Although there is limited availability of the COVID-19 doses globally, due to the collaboration between Governments, the support from the COVAX facility (CEPI, GAVI, UNICEF, WHO) and all partners, we are all seeking to ensure that the population is protected.”