The World Health Organization (WHO) has delivered its first Covid-19 doses to Ghana under a programme to ensure low-income countries do not wait for years to start inoculating their populations.
Ghana became the first country to receive the vaccines through the COVAX program on Wednesday, a joint statement issued by UNICEF Ghana and WHO Ghana said.
An aircraft carrying 600,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine landed in Accra, the capital of Ghana, on Wednesday.
The vaccines were produced by the Serum Institute of India, in the Indian city of Pune, and are part of the first wave of Covid-19 vaccines to be supplied to low and middle-income countries under the COVAX initiative, the joint statement added.
“Today marks the historic moment for which we have been planning and working so hard,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “With the first shipment of doses, we can make good on the promise of the COVAX facility to ensure people from less wealthy countries are not left behind in the race for life-saving vaccines.”
COVAX is a shared-procurement program, involving the WHO, Gavi vaccine alliance, UNICEF and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, aimed at ensuring global access to coronavirus vaccines, especially in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
The WHO hopes to deliver 336 million doses in the first half of the year.
Ghana’s information ministry says the vaccines will be first administered to health workers, people over 60, and those with underlying health conditions. They also plan to secure additional vaccines through external agencies, a statement from the ministry said.
In comparison to other regions, African countries have been slow to start vaccinating against Covid-19, with only a handful of countries who have started a vaccines campaign.
Last month, India and the African Union announced plans for the Serum Institute to supply 400 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Africa.
Ghana has reported at least 80,759 cases of Covid-19 and 582 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.