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COVID-19 vaccine in the offing: Safety, efficacy key concern - Prez Akufo-Addo assures

BY: Kwame Asare Boadu
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

The government will ensure that COVID-19 vaccines to be deployed in the country are effective and safe, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has assured Ghanaians.

He said he was not oblivious of the anxieties relating to the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, and assuaged all fears that the twin ingredients of safety and efficacy would hold sway in all that the government would do with respect to the procurement and application of the vaccines.

“To this end, I have put together a team of experts from the relevant institutions and agencies who are working assiduously towards the procurement and deployment of the vaccines in Ghana,” he said.

In his 20th update on Ghana’s Enhanced Response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic yesterday, the President said the country would not be left behind when it came to having access to the vaccines.

President Akufo-Addo said the recent approval given by the Food and Drugs Administration of the United States of America and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency of the United Kingdom had brought considerable optimism and hope to the world in the battle to defeat the pandemic.

Borders still closed

President Akufo-Addo said Ghana’s land and sea borders, as well as the beaches, pubs, cinemas and nightclubs, would remain closed until further notice.

However, all other institutions that had been cleared to function would continue to do so, in strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocols.

On that score, he pleaded with all to ensure compliance with the enhanced hygiene and mask-wearing protocols that had become part of the daily routine of the people.

Cases

Making reference to his 19th update some six weeks ago, in which he had indicated that the nation was recording an average of 130 new cases of infections per day, the President said since then, there had been a stable daily rate of infection of between 100 and 130 cases.

That was in spite of the “genuine fears” that the vigorous election campaign would see a surge in cases.

“Indeed, the total number of active cases has reduced marginally from 1,139 as of Friday, 6th November, 2020, to 946 as of Friday, 18th December. Our hospitalisation rates continue to be very low, and our treatment centres are virtually empty. As per data from the Ghana Health Service, some regions, at the moment, have no recorded active cases, and long may this continue,” the President said.

He paid glowing tribute to health workers who continued to work assiduously to battle the virus.

“Our heroic health workers have seen to 52,675 recoveries, for which the country is extremely grateful. Unfortunately, 13 more deaths from COVID-19 and its complications have been recorded, bringing the total number of fatalities to 333 out of 53,954 confirmed cases.

“The data tells us that we are experiencing, in Ghana, clusters of cases linked, largely, to confined indoor spaces with poor ventilation, workplaces, offices, factories, schools, parties and arriving passengers at our airport,” he said.

While saying it was important for all Ghanaians to pat themselves on the back for the strides made, he singled out the Electoral Commission (EC) for praise for the effective safety protocols it put in place for the general election.

“So, on behalf of the government, I want to thank our fellow Ghanaians who continue to adhere to the social distancing, handwashing, hand hygiene and mask-wearing protocols which serve us well,” he said.

Christmas

With Christmas around the corner, President Akufo-Addo called for caution among the people in all their activities to avoid the virus.

“With barely a week to the Christmas festivities, which bring in their wake family reunions, parties and many social and religious gatherings, I urge all of us to err on the side of caution and observe the COVID-19 safety protocols, no matter where we find ourselves,” the President said.

He added that the dynamics of the virus had taught the lesson that “if you must host or attend such events, they are best held safely outdoors or in very well-ventilated halls, rather than in closed, air-conditioned spaces. Even when organised outdoors, there must be adequate spacing for the maintenance of social distancing”.

President Akufo-Addo admonished the organisers of such events to ensure the presence of Veronica buckets, soap and sanitiser and also insist on patrons using them as frequently as possible.

He also entreated all persons with underlying ailments, such as hypertension, diabetes, chronic liver disease and asthma, to pay particular attention to their health during the festive season.