Covax Program Ships First Covid Vaccines to Africa
The global exchange program, which aims to make access to vaccines more equal, delivered its first major dose delivery to the West African nation of Ghana on Thursday, kicking off the largest mass vaccination campaign in history.
“Today is the historic moment that we have planned and worked so hard for,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF General Manager. “In the coming days, the frontline workers will be receiving vaccines and the next phase in the fight against this disease can begin.”
The first shipment of 600,000 cans was packed and labeled in India and then flown to Accra, the Ghanaian capital.
Ghana and other West African countries are expected to begin vaccinations in the coming days, officials said. This is the first of 92 low and middle income countries to receive free vaccines through Covax, a vaccine exchange initiative.
The goal is for Covax to release around two billion doses of Covid-19 shots this year, which would be the largest vaccine sourcing and supply company in history, according to official figures.
The broadcast arrived in West Africa when studies were released indicating that the spread of the virus in the region was much greater than official figures show.
At least one in five people in Lagos, Nigeria, could have had coronavirus by October last year. This is evident from the findings recently released by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, an infection rate well above that of the national surveillance system. A study published in Accra in November had similar results.
Many public health officials have criticized the uneven distribution of vaccines – wealthy nations are already supplying tens of millions of doses and building up huge reserves for their populations.
For example, while at least 44.5 million Americans and around 18 million people in the UK have already received a shot, more than 130 countries haven’t had a single person vaccinated in the past week. The Ghana shipment covers only 1 percent of the population.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said last week that the distributions were “wildly uneven and unfair”.
And high-income countries do not respect and compete with the treaties under Covax, reducing the number of cans the initiative can buy, said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization, on Tuesday.
The pandemic will not end until everyone is vaccinated.
“This is not a question of charity,” he said. “It’s a question of epidemiology.”
Last week, the group of wealthy developed nations known as the Group of 7 announced they were stepping up their collaboration with the international vaccination campaign, increasing their total commitment to the effort to $ 7.5 billion.
Dr. However, Tedros said a $ 23 billion funding gap remained.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday called for even more urgent action, saying Europe and the United States should send up to 5 percent of their vaccine supplies to developing countries.
But even if things go according to plan, vaccinating the vast majority of the world’s most vulnerable people this year will be a daunting challenge.
Ghana, a nation of more than 30 million people, will receive enough vaccines by the end of 2021 to supply only about 20 percent of its population. It has to buy millions more cans separately.
Poorer countries don’t pay to buy vaccines and injection equipment under Covax, at least for up to 20 percent of the population. However, you have to pay the cost of in-country delivery.
To get vaccines, countries had to come up with plans detailing who they wanted to immunize, how they would go about it and how they would monitor vaccinations. They also had to sign a compensation agreement with the vaccine manufacturer.
“No country has been prioritized,” said Benjamin Schreiber, UNICEF coordinator for the Covax program.
Four countries that can apply for vaccines under Covax have not done so: Burundi, Eritrea, Madagascar and Tanzania.