Ghana receives the first doses of the free Covax vaccines

The Covax scheme hopes to ensure vaccines are shared equally among both rich and poor nations. 

Ghana is now the first African country to receive over 600,000 Oxford-AstraZeneca doses from the Covax facility. The arrival of the Covid-19 vaccines was confirmed by the World Health Organization’s regional African office. In a tweet, the WHO described the delivery as one of its first waves of arrivals. Dr. Francis Kasolo, Ghana’s WHO representative, also confirmed the arrival of the vaccines from the Covax facility. 

Also read: WHO endorses use of AstraZeneca vaccine to persons over 65

Ghana has thus far over 81,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 588 reported deaths. The vaccine doses originated from the serum institute of India. So far over 92 other countries globally have signed onto the Global Access Facility program (COVAX).

In December, the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a campaign group pointed out how the world’s richest 14%, had ordered over 53% of the world’s vaccine output -  creating a moral and equity dilemma. The WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has also championed for countries to share doses, technology, or ramp up their manufacturing notwithstanding increased funding to Covax.

The global pandemic has destroyed economic livelihoods and taken the lives of over two million people. It is no surprise that wealthy nations have gobbled up the lion’s share of all Covid-19 vaccines produced. The Covax scheme aims to deliver over 2 billion vaccines to the poorest of nations residing in over 190 countries. Distribution of the vaccine will go hand in hand to reach 92 of the poorest countries at the same time it reaches the 98 wealthier nations. This non-discriminatory approach is led by the World Health Organization alongside the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the Global Vaccine Alliance. 

Also read: South African Covid-19 variant reduces vaccine protections

Who funds Covax?

According to the BBC, thus far, Covax has raised over $6bn, but the scheme is asking for a further $2bn to achieve its 2021 targets. The United Kingdom’s government has pumped in an impressive $734m while the United States has pledged $4bn. One of the top priorities of the new US administration was to sign up for the Covax program. So far the United Kingdom has ordered over 400 million doses which will result in a surplus. The country will ship all its surplus vaccines to poor countries. During the recent G7 summit, French President Emmanuel Macron also urged wealthy nations to allocate 5% of their vaccine supplies to poorer countries. 

Also read: Macron urges for vaccine sharing with Africa

Which vaccine is produced by Covax?

Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine is produced under the Covax scheme and has received the approval of use from the WHO. 340 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and 1.2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be produced. The rollout is set for March. On release, the first priority will go to the health and social care workers, the elderly, and finally the rest of the population.