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COVID-19 vaccine arrives today

BY: Samuel Doe Ablordeppey

Ghana will take delivery of its first batch of 600,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines this morning.

Covishield AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured by Serum Institute of India, one of the vaccines the government has ordered, will arrive at 7.30 a.m. today at the Kotoka International Airport.

Diplomatic sources confirmed to the Daily Graphic last night that the delivery had been made possible after the consignment of doses were cleared by the Indian government and drug manufacturers for COVAX to supply to Ghana.

The sources indicated that the consignment would be transported by Emirates Airlines cargo, EK787.

An Indian High Commission in Ghana tweet last night, read: “Fulfilling our commitment to help the world with COVID-19 vaccines, 600,000 ‘Made in India’ vaccines reaching #Accra #Ghana on 24 February under COVAX facility.”

The tweet reverberated on the handles of the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the World Health Organisation (WHO), GAVI, the Ministry of Health, amongst others.

Two vaccines

The government has settled on two vaccines, the Covishield and Russia's Sputnik-V.

The Ghana Health Service has explained that the use of vaccines was a major complementary measure for breaking the COVID-19 transmission due to lack of optimum adherence to the preventive protocol.

According to the service, because people had let down their guard on the preventive protocols, the gains made during the first wave of the outbreak were fast eroding.

The vaccines will be administered under the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) set to start in two weeks.

The government has urged the public to disregard all myths concerning the COVID-19 vaccines and avail themselves for vaccination when it starts.

The Minister designate for Health, Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, made the call on behalf of the government, and said vaccination had been proven to be the most single method of breaking transmission when used to complement other safety protocols.

Vaccination plan

The vaccination exercise will be carried out in segmentation based on vulnerabilities of the population.

The first phase will cover health workers, people with known underlying health conditions and security personnel.

The second phase will cover the three arms of government, other essential service providers, people above 60 years, the media, second cycle and tertiary students and teachers.

Phase three will involve other members of the population, except children under 16 and pregnant women.

The immunisation programme would be expanded to include children under 16 and pregnant women over time.

Background

President Akufo-Addo announced at this year’s New Year School on January 19 that the government had started discussions with some COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing companies, with the goal of ordering the suitable doses of vaccines for use in Ghana.

That followed the completion of work by the committee set up by the government to recommend the appropriate decision on a COVID-19 vaccine.

He noted that through the advancement of science, some vaccines were already being administered in some countries to help control and eventually end the pandemic.

Assurance

The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has indicated that it has employed adequate safety and quality assurance in authorising the two COVID-19 vaccines to be administered in the country.

It said no safety and efficacy standards were bypassed or compromised, except that the emergency use authorisation pathway allowed for expedited review for the public good.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the FDA, Mrs Delese Mimi Darko, vouched for Covishield AstraZeneca of India and Sputnik-V of Russia of being safe and efficacious.