Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire begin administering Africa’s first COVID-19 COVAX vaccine doses

EYEAFRICA TV: Geneva, SWITZERLAND:-Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire have on Monday began the first COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in Africa using COVAX doses.

This week’s first vaccinations aimed at protecting healthcare workers, happen as a further 11 million COVAX doses are expected to be delivered over the next seven days.

The campaigns in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire follow deliveries to both countries last week with Ghana taking delivery of 600,000 doses on February 24 and Côte d’Ivoire 504,000 doses two days later.

Both countries received the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine licensed and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII). The vaccine, branded COVISHIELD, was granted Emergency Use Listing (EUL) by the World Health Organization on February 15.

“Ghana welcomes the arrival of the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX AMC as a pathway to ending the acute phase of the pandemic,” Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo said.

“This important milestone will allow Ghana to get back to business, and build back our economy even stronger than before,” he said, adding that the the first doses will be prioritized for health and essential workers, and other at-risk groups.

The deliveries mark the start of what will be the largest, most rapid and complex global rollout of vaccines in history.

In total, COVAX aims to deliver at least 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021, including at least 1.3 billion to the 92 economies eligible for support through the COVAX AMC.

COVAX, the overarching effort to accelerate development and access to COVID vaccines, is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO) working in partnership with UNICEF as well as the World Bank, manufacturers and civil society organizations, and others.

“This is a day many of us have been dreaming of and working for more than 12 months,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

“As vaccination begins in Côte D’Ivoire, less than a year after COVID-19 was characterized as a global pandemic, I am filled with confidence, and I am sure that through COVAX and international solidarity we will be able to reach the most at-risk everywhere,” said José Manuel Barroso, Chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.  

“The first COVAX vaccine deliveries in West and Central Africa were a huge first step towards equity and a demonstration of global solidarity,” said UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa Marie-Pierre Poirier.

The start of Africa’s biggest immunization drive in history through the COVAX Facility marks a step forward in the continent’s fight against COVID-19.

It is a welcome shift towards bringing African countries off the sidelines and back into the vaccination race, correcting the glaring inequity which has been an unfortunate hallmark of the global vaccine rollout to date.

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