- Set to delay economic recovery programme
The country’s quest to revive the economy to return to its pre-pandemic levels may not be realised early as government’s intention to secure vaccines for 20 percent of the population may only be possible next year, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) country report for February 2021 has said.
According to the policy think-tank, given Ghana’s lower middle-income status, it will not be able to compete with the developed economies for the procurement of vaccines, as the country will predominantly rely on international bodies to fund purchases of the vaccines, whereas rich countries have what it takes to scramble for them.
Additionally, the EIU noted, the country’s means of procuring the vaccines through COVAX Facility – a body set up to provide COVID-19 vaccines to low- and middle-income countries – will make it only likely for the vaccines to arrive in large quantities in the next 18 months.
“The vaccines will not be available in large enough quantities in the coming months to be game-changing. Logistics and shipping will also be difficult. We therefore maintain our view that vaccines will not be widely available for the general population in developed economies before mid-2021.
Access to the vaccine will be difficult initially as all developed countries race to acquire sufficient quantities and poorer countries struggle to secure funding. As a result, the rollout in middle-income and emerging countries will take much longer; we do not expect it to take place on a significant scale before 2022.
Ghana will not see an immediate return to normality in 2021, and is only likely to obtain vaccines for 20 percent of the population (some 6m people) through the COVAX Facility during their first 18 months of availability,” the report said.
It is against this background and other pertinent factors that the EIU says the economy will not return to normality until 2022.
“The gradual rollout of a number of effective vaccines will mean that a path to normality will gradually become clearer over 2022, and we forecast that the general population of COVAX-eligible countries will start to be vaccinated from April 2022. In the meantime, continued local outbreaks (with the potential for the repeated imposition of strict containment measures, probably within specific, targeted areas, rather than nationwide lockdowns) are expected to remain an issue for Ghana over much of 2021-22,” the report said.
Government has indicated it expects to see first batch of the vaccines by end of the first quarter of 2021, and priority will be given to frontline healthcare workers and those with underlying conditions together with members of the security services.
The country has started seeing a sharp rise in the number of positive cases, with new cases crossing 8,000 since the beginning of the year – a development which has pushed government to start imposing restrictions on large gatherings such as funerals, weddings and parties.
Some in the public are also calling on the President to rethink its decision of reopening schools across all levels, especially as some education institutions have reported positive cases, with some of them closing down to contain the spread.