It is good news that the COVID-19 vaccine has arrived. Thankfully, delivery was made possible after a consignment of doses was cleared by the Indian government and drug manufacturers for COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX) member countries.
After a year of global disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 80,700 Ghanaians getting infected with the virus and over 580 lost lives, the path to recovery for the people of Ghana can finally begin.
With the arrival of the vaccine, we expect that within the next few weeks the remaining quantities will come in to make up the full complement needed to vaccinate the first batch of eligible people.
By October, the country plans to reach a herd immunity of vaccinating 20 million people.
The 600,000 doses of Covishield, the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, one of the vaccines the government has ordered, arrived at the Kotoka International Airport at 7:45 a.m. yesterday.
This is a phenomenal win for South-South cooperation and we laud the Indian government for this show of support and its unalloyed commitment to the cooperation as well as fulfilling its commitment to help the world with the COVID-19 vaccine.
Indeed, India is proving to the world that it is not paying lip service to the fight against COVID-19 but taking a frontline position on the global stage in dealing with the deadly pandemic through the production of the vaccine.
As we have started taking delivery of the vaccine, we need a lot more information, not only on its efficacy but also the comprehensive programme for the nationwide vaccination.
Many people are giving various interpretations to the vaccines — some positive and others very negative.
Indeed, there are a lot of fallacies and controversies out there and we need to disabuse the minds of the citizenry by assuring them that the use of the vaccine is a major complementary measure for breaking the COVID-19 transmission.
Certainly, vaccines remain the safest, most cost-effective protection against contagious diseases and will provide a powerful tool to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is, therefore, the need for a massive, deliberate and sustained national educational campaign on the vaccine to provide the right and relevant information for the people.
At this stage, we urge the public to disregard all myths concerning the COVID-19 vaccine and avail themselves for vaccination when it starts on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.
There is no doubt that every medication, and by extension vaccine, has side effects which trials confirm are not fatal.
These side effects, which include mild fevers and headaches, are not certain to manifest in everybody who takes the vaccine.
The good news is that the Food and Drugs Authority has assured us that the vaccine is safe and efficacious. In addition to that, there has been no incident of any death associated with the vaccine.
The immediate target is to get about 70 per cent of the population vaccinated and ultimately get the whole populace covered.
The only way out of this pandemic is to ensure that vaccination is there for everybody.
In borrowing a leaf from the Indian success story, Ghana should also be interested in developing its own vaccines. India has done it and we believe Ghana can equally achieve this feat with a little bit of commitment and investment in science and research.
We need more information on the vaccination programme to put everybody at ease. At this stage, there is no need for anxiety.
As we all wait patiently to be vaccinated, let us continue to follow the COVID-19 safety protocols. It is the surest means to keep safe.