Mr Iain Walker, the United Kingdom (UK) High Commissioner to Ghana, has commended the country for being the first in Africa to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, shipped via the COVAX Facility.
“I was delighted to stand alongside the Minister-designate for Health… as Ghana becomes the first country in Africa to take delivery of a vaccine donated through COVAX,” he said.
Mr Walker said Ghana came second after India to receive the 600,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, placing the country at the forefront of vaccine efforts in Africa.
He said UK was proud to have provided £548 million for COVAX, which would help supply at least 1.3 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses for up to 92 countries this year, and lauded Ghana for the foresight.
“The UK’s financial support early in the pandemic helped COVAX establish itself as a mechanism to champion equitable vaccine access for countries around the world,” he said.
He said the 600,000 doses of the vaccine, which arrived in Accra on February 24, had undergone rigorous clinical trials and had been authorised for use by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) of Ghana.
“Concerted international action is the only way for us to end the pandemic. We have a moral duty to make sure that no country is left behind in the fight against Covid-19. It is also a strategic necessity to make us less vulnerable to future waves and possible variants,” the High Commissioner said.
“We have pledged up to £1.3bn of new UK aid to end the coronavirus pandemic as quickly as possible.”
A statement issued by the Commission, copied to the Ghana News Agency, quoted Mr Dominic Raab, the UK’s Foreign Secretary, as saying: “Today’s rollout of vaccines to the world’s most vulnerable countries is a huge step forward in ending this pandemic.”
It said as one of the biggest donors to COVAX, the UK was ensuring that more than one billion vaccine doses would be sent to 92 countries to ensure no one was left behind.
“We will only save lives and reduce the risk of future infections if we prevent the virus from spreading in the world’s developing countries,” the statement said.
The statement quoted the WHO and GAVI as saying that: “Today is a historic step towards our goal to ensuring equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines globally, in what will be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history.”
It said the delivery was part of a series of arrivals that would continue in the coming days and weeks.
From the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, the UK had worked to support the people and Government of Ghana to respond to the pandemic, the statement said.
At the outset, six million pounds of UK Aid was re-purposed to support the Government and people of Ghana during the Covid-19 crisis, it said.
The support ranged from specialist expertise such as seconding a UK Emergency Medical Team Case Management Specialist to the WHO Ghana; funding of oxygen concentrators and drones to deliver Covid-19 tests and life-saving medical equipment.
It also helped the Ministry of Education during the closure of schools, where six million children were able to access distance learning through the Ghana Learning TV channel and 32,000 teachers trained to deliver remote learning.
“Our partnership with the Government of Ghana has seen over 6000 healthcare workers across Ghana trained to prevent infection and care for Covid-19 patients,” the statement said.
“Medical equipment provided to 326 healthcare facilities to support Covid-19 prevention and case management; and over 5.4m people provided with information to minimise infection risk.”
COVAX is co-led by GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, working in partnership with UNICEF and the World Bank, civil society organisations and the manufacturers.