ACCRA – Ghana has become the first country in the world to receive COVID-19 vaccines under the COVAX initiative.
The U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday morning delivered 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Ghana. The vaccines were sent by COVAX.
The COVAX initiative aims for equitable vaccine access for developing nations.
It’s led by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
A Ghana government delegation and officials from UNICEF and the WHO received the vaccines at the airport.
The director-general of Ghana’s Health Service, Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, told the public that the vaccines are safe.
“We can say that there have been so many people in the world who have been vaccinated and nobody has reported of any severe adverse reaction. And so, people should keep their hopes with us and know that this very safe and effective strategy is being applied,” he said.
The AstraZeneka vaccine was made by the Serum Institute of India.
South Africa halted its rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine earlier this month after a study showed it was less effective than hoped for against variants of the coronavirus.
The WHO, however, recommended using it even in countries where the variant strains are circulating, saying it appears to prevent severe cases and can still save lives.
The director of health promotion at the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Aboagye Dacosta, said they will increase education about the vaccines.
“We’ve actually started the education and I was just going to say that there is actually more to be done in the coming weeks,” said Dr. Dacosta.
A statement from Ghana’s Information Ministry says President Nana Akufo-Addo would be among the first to receive a shot when inoculations begin on March 2.
The statement said vaccines would be given to health workers, persons above 60 years of age or with underlying health conditions, and other essential workers.
Ghana is the first of 92 lower income countries that will receive vaccines for free through COVAX.