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Ghana Becomes First Nation To Receive Vaccines From WHO-Backed Covax Initiative

Shipments of the Covax-funded Covid-19 vaccines arrived at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra/ AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

Ghana has become the first country in the world to receive Covid-19 vaccines from the World Health Organization-backed Covax initiative that promises to deliver shots to poorer nations, as health experts around the world raised concerns about inequitable availability of vaccines that they warn may prolong the pandemic.

KEY FACTS

  • As part of Wednesday’s delivery, Ghana received 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine which has been licensed and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the Covax Initiative announced in a press release.
  • Ghana was picked to be the first recipient of the Covax-funded shots after it outlined its national rollout plan and proved that its healthcare teams and cold chain equipment were adequately prepared, the Washington Post reported.
  • Ghana’s vaccine rollout will begin on March 2 in phases starting with health workers, people older than 60, those with preexisting conditions and other frontline workers.

BIG NUMBER

2 billion. That the number of vaccine doses going to participating nations in 2021, with at least 1.3 billion of them going to 92 lower-income nations.

CRUCIAL QUOTE

Highlighting the inequitable rollout of the vaccines so far, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted Tuesday that “210 million doses of vaccine have been administered globally but half of those are in just two countries,” while “more than 200 countries are yet to administer a single dose.”

KEY BACKGROUND

The first Covax delivery comes at a time when health experts have increasingly raised concerns about the deep disparities in the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines around the world. The Covax program, which had been put in place to address the disparity, got a shot in the arm last week  after U.S. President Joe Biden committed $2 billion in initial funding for the initiative followed by an additional $2 billion later. Biden’s commitment was a departure from his predecessor Donald Trump, whose administration refused to join the initiative. Despite the additional funding, Covax is facing issues in acquiring vaccine doses, Tedros said on Tuesday. The WHO chief even accused some high-income countries of entering contracts with vaccine makers “that undermine the deals that Covax has in place.” Experts have warned lack of equitable vaccine distribution will only prolong the pandemic and delay the return to normalcy.

-Forbes

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